Mollie Katzen's Lentil Chili

Lentil chili (1 of 1)

It's autumn officially now I believe. The last day of September, or perhaps by the time I publish this post, the first of October. Kids are back in school, I'm back in school, I might even be TA'ing for some of your older kids if they happen to go to a certain university. If I am, sorry for not giving out very many 'check pluses' on the last response paper. Best of all, my favorite TV shows are back. My beloved Bones (I love Dr Brennan so friggin much), my also-beloved Criminal Minds (I love Garcia so friggin much), even Glee (oh Sue, I love you too). Basically, if you have a compelling female character (or three! I'm looking at you CM, at least I was before I finished this last episode. What the heck?!) I probably love you. Helps me pare down tv shows pretty quickly, unfortunately. But that's how I roll. Love the leading ladies.

So between watching great TV, working on my dissertation, and grading your little darlings' papers, I also have a part-time job. And in the middle of the day while at that part-time job, I get to have a lunch break. A real, honest to goodness lunch break, the way adult people do. So sometimes I get a salad, sometimes a sandwich, and often I get a bowl of lentil chili. Which made me think, 'why in the world am I buying lentil chili when I could just make it?' Enter Mollie (with an "ie") Katzen.

This is her lentil chili, but I have some caveats. First: there just never seems to be enough liquid whenever I deal with lentils. Maybe mine are particularly thirsty? Or just greedy? Either way, I added far more liquid than she required, and still the chili was bordering on a lentil mash rather than a stew. I'm going to reproduce the recipe I actually made below, but in the future, these are the things I would do differently:
* Cut the amount of lentils in half
* Keep the liquid the same, the tomatoes the same and probably the seasonings about the same, but you'd have to adjust them to your taste.
* Same amount of onion, too, since I love onion.

Mollie Katzen's Lentil Chili
Adopted from Mollie Katzen's Still Life with Menu Cookbook

4 cups dried lentils (any kind, really)
2 cups tomato juice (can replace with just water if you want)
4 - 5 cups water
1 1lb can tomatoes, undrained, but broken up (which you can do with your spoon once they're in the chili)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
10-12 medium garlic cloves (don't worry, it's not overpowering)
1 largish onion, chopped
2 teaspoons salt
Pepper to taste
6 tablespoons tomato paste
1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Crushed red pepper, to taste

Put the lentils, the tomato juice and 4 cups of water into a large pot or dutch oven. Bring the liquid to a boil, then put the lid on only slightly askew so some of the steam can escape. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Start chopping your vegetables.

Add the tomatoes, cumin, paprika, thyme, garlic and onions. Stir until everything is combined, then return the lid to the position it was in before and simmer for another 45 minutes, and up to an hour, if that's what it takes for the lentils to become tender. Stir occasionally, scraping along the bottom of the pot to prevent sticking. If you notice the water level going down too much, add some more.

Add the salt, pepper and tomato paste and stir again. Continue simmering until the lentils are very soft, maybe even 30 minutes more.

Just before serving, stir in the vinegar and red pepper. Adjust the seasonings if necessary and heap into big bowls.

UPDATE: Have lots of leftover chili? You could try this idea for turning your leftovers into Lentil Chili Burgers!


Jennifer said…
This sounds really lovely, I love how thick and hearty it is! Great for fall!
Phoebe said…
That sounds so good. I just bought lentils the other day and wasn't sure what recipe I should use.

So should I cut the 4 cups of lentils in half? Or did you already cut it in half for us?
Andrea said…
Hi Phoebe, part of the reason I'd cut the 4 cups in half is because it was just way too much chili for two of us. The other reason is because I didn't find the amount of liquid called for to be near enough. So you'll have to play the liquid issue by ear. Also I thought it could use more tomato which is why I'd keep the same amount of tomato when cutting the lentils in half. I recipe I posted is the original and I haven't actually made any of these suggested changes so I can't vouch for them for sure. But if you do find yourself with leftovers I have another post for how to use them coming up
Luisa Morón said…
Esto se ve muy rico. bss.
Foodie McBody said…
I LOVE this chili. I also love her basic Lentil soup (..."gentle") from the original Moosewood cookbook.

And. It's MOLLIE, not Molly. I named my daughter after her!
Sam said…
The chili looks so good, perfect cold weather food.
Andrea said…
Foodie, thanks for the catch. Changed it!
Sophia said…
Wow, great job here. Awesome picture too! You should really consider submitting this to Recipe4Living's Champion Chili Recipe Contest! It looks delicious!

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