Easy veggie chilli as good as any meaty one and #healthyyum #veggie #fabulous

Posted on June 28, 2013


Veggie Chilli

I owe this recipe to a very dear old friend, Damon, who cooked it for me in Liverpool once when we were both recent graduates, so I’m talking a LONG time ago. Over the years I’ve probably adapted it a bit but the basic key elements are what make it special and these come from him so he must be credited.

It takes a bit of time to make because one of the things that makes it so flavourful is slow sweating of the veggies. Now I know that’s not a very nice sounding term but I believe it is technically correct and it’s what you have to do, so just go with it, okay.  If you don’t know about sweating veggies I will explain, so don’t worry. You are going to make an awesome veggie chilli and it will be super easy. Give yourself an hour or so, from start to finish.

Ingredients are as follows, in the order you will use them:

  • puy lentils (that’s the little dark greeny/brown ones), onions, garlic, green peppers (and other colours if you like), mushrooms, celery, courgettes, (any other veg you think you’d like to add, I often use fennel, feel free to experiment), tinned tomatoes, kidney beans (tinned in water is easiest, cook your own if you can be bothered and prefer it)

I don’t do quantities, they really don’t matter for this recipe, use as much as you  like of all of the above,  I tend to use one onion, one clove or garlic, two or three peppers, 2 sticks of celery, two courgettes, a full or half pack of mushrooms, one-three tins tomatoes, one or two tins of kidney beans, but none of this is precise.  You will get enough for four to eight people if you use roughly the quantities I’ve indicated.

Take a handful (or so) of puy lentils and cook them in water for around 20 mins. You can add one or two peppercorns to the lentils as you cook them for extra flavour but  don’t worry if you forget, it’s not crucial. When they are done you will strain off any left over water and add the lentils to the chilli for it’s last bit of cooking time.

chop the onion and garlic and sweat them in whatever oil you like to use for normal cooking, in a large saucepan.  You don’t need much oil, just enough to very lightly coat the base of your pan, use as much as you are comfortable with.

NB – sweating means chuck them in the pan, stir to coat (lightly) in the oil then put a lid on the pan and let them sweat over a LOW heat – sweating veggies like this for as long as you can be bothered = releasing the wonderful flavour.

NB again – normally I like my veggies very lightly cooked but for this recipe you will be cooking everything to mush, and you will thank me for it. You can always serve some nice crisp green veg on the side. That works.

Chop the other veggies into small pieces – this is what will give you the excellent and unique texture of this dish, apart from the celery, which you can just chop normally, chop everything into quite small bits. No nice mushroom shaped bits of mushrooms here- you want little cubes of mushrooms – and everything else.

As you chop each item, add it to the pan and continue to sweat everything together, I suggest doing this in the order the ingredients are listed in, excluding the lentils,  tomatoes and kidney beans which will be added at a later stage.

Sweat it all as long as you can be bothered, you want it to get really mushy so all the flavours will really mix in nicely together. This can take around 20 mins, or even longer.

Eventually when you just want to get on with stuff, add a load of paprika and stir it in, I do mean a load, you want to add enough to change the colour of your veggie mush so you can really see there is paprika in it, not just a little sprinkle of the stuff. If you are into measuring you might try a dessert spoon and then up to two more dessert spoons, till you can see that it is really making a difference to how the dish looks.

At this stage also add a little bit of chilli powder – maximum quarter of a teaspoon.   Do NOT go crazy with the chilli ( – unless you are a total chilli freak and feeding other chilli freaks in which case, you know what you like, go ahead.)

Remember for a sensible chilli that will not blow anyone’s head off, it’s LOTS of paprika, just a little bit of chilli.

Stir in your spices with your veg, sweat for a bit longer – 3 – 5 mins.

Then add your tin of tomatoes ( to make more chilli you can use two or even three tins of tomatoes)

At this stage you can also add in your lentils and kidney beans, or you can add them towards the end of the overall cooking time, it doesn’t make much difference.

From adding the tomatoes you will need to keep cooking the chilli, over the same low heat, for another 20 mins or so. If using more than one tin of tomatoes it might take longer for all the liquid to be absorbed.

Basically it’s ready to serve when it looks perfect and the consistency is as you want it to be. The only thing you can do wrong at this stage is serve it when there is still a lot of liquidy tomato juice that hasn’t cooked in to the rest of the dish. You can always turn the heat up for a bit to speed up the cooking at this stage if you need to.

You are going to love this chilli.  And hopefully you will have made enough to get more than one meal out of it. Tastes even better warmed up the following day.

Delicious served with brown rice, baked sweet potatoes, salad, watercress, or lightly cooked green veg on the side, and can be topped with cheddar cheese, sour cream or guacamole, or whatever else you think of. Some nice fresh herbs on top would also go well, coriander for example. Let me know how you get on.


Veggie Chilli

Veggie Chilli, ready to serve