This hearty vegan chili is made with lentils and quinoa for a meat-like texture, even your carnivore friends will love this. Using a good rich stout as part of the liquid adds depth and flavor.
This post was originally posted in 2013 and has been updated to include more detailed instructions and new photos.
It’s over. Christmas that is. The days and weeks spent planning and shopping and cooking are all done. Today I feel like I can finally relax and do what I want. Boxing day just might be my favorite day of the holidays. And no, not because I’m running around the mall battling the crowds. Precisely because I am not doing that. Nope. I’m curled up on the couch in my new Christmas leggings with my new cookbook and my dog at my feet. And a coffee of course.
And as much as I like holiday food, I’m ready for something filling and wholesome. Snow day food. Sitting around watching movies in wool socks kind of food. This is Boxing Day food. And I think it is the best kind.
I wanted a hearty and rich chili. A chili that simmers all day and gets richer and deeper as it cooks. To keep this chili plant-basted I used black beans and lentils. For richness – I took a page from my husband’s playbook and added a hearty dark stout style beer to the simmering pot.
Stout adds a deep rich flavor. Similar to the effect of using a beef broth, that little bit of stout will develop some of that meaty flavor you might feel missing from vegetarian chili.
In an attempt to capture the meaty texture my family loves in a good chili – I threw in a scoop of quinoa at the end and crossed my fingers. I hoped the quinoa would help thicken the chili without getting mushy. The quinoa held up fabulously. Great texture. Even a day or two later, the chili was just right.
Lentils and quinoa give this vegetarian chili a “meat-like” texture
Adding beer to chili is something my husband does to this classic with “man-chili”. So I thought I would give this a try. I wanted a “meaty” chili. A dark, bitter beer adds an amazing depth of flavor which I always thought was wonderful with a meat-based chili. But here, in a pot of lentils, it does magical things. The texture of the lentils – and the quinoa give this chili a very meaty texture. Adding the stout just feels hearty and good. Who knew a lentil chili could be so good?
How to make rich vegetarian chili
- Use a dark beer, 1 cup, something rich. Guinness is the obvious choice, but any brand will do. Look for a dark stout.
- Use green or brown lentils here. Red lentils are too tender and will melt into nothing, sacrificing texture. Basic green (a.k.a. brown lentils) are just fine here.
- I find this chili takes a good long time to simmer. So give it time. I like to let it go for 45 minutes.
- When you first add the lentils and quinoa to the pot the chili will look very watery, it will thicken up nicely once the lentils and quinoa cook and absorb some of it.
- Check the pot occasionally as it simmers, if the pot seems dry add a half cup of liquid (water or stock), especially if the lentils are not yet completely tender.
- If after 45 minutes the lentils still seem a bit on the tough side, add a bit more water and let it simmer some more. Check it every 15-20 minutes.
- Finish this chili with just a splash of vinegar. Cider vinegar wakes up the flavors.
- The honey (to keep this vegan use agave or another liquid sweetener) adds the tiniest bit of sweetness. Just enough to complement the heat of spices and the bitterness of the stout. Stir both the vinegar and the sweetener in at the end, taste.
Lentil and Quinoa Chilli with Stout
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup diced onion about 1 small onion
- 1 cup diced red sweet pepper
- 1-2 jalapeños fresh, diced
- 2 tablespoons chill powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 cloves of garlic pressed
- 1.5 cup green or brown lentils
- 1/2 quinoa
- 28 oz can diced tomatoes or whole canned tomatoes,broken into small pieces with your spoon
- 1 cup dark beer such as Guinness
- 4 cup veg stock or water
- 1-2 Tablespoons agava syrup, to taste or honey if not vegan
- 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
- Warm olive oil over medium heat, add onion, sweet and jalapeño peppers and sauté until tender – 5-7 minutes.
- Add garlic, tomato paste, and spices and cook for one to two minutes. Add lentils and quinoa and toss to coat with the spices and onions. Add diced tomatoes, beer, water and stock. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer and slightly cover. Simmer until lentils are tender about 45 minutes. Stir occasionally, adding water if the mixture becomes too dry. Finish chill with a half teaspoon cider vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons of sweetener, depending on your taste. Serve.
You might also like these recipes made with quinoa