Sunday, April 10, 2011

French Lentil Chili: A Little Bowl of Vegan Yum for Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

It's been a week of strange weather here with lots of wind and rain, a little thunder and lightening, followed by bursts of sun coming through all the clouds now and then. Pretty much all-mixed up--but good weather to enjoy a bowl of slightly spicy chili. In this case it's a different take on the classic dish, a French Lentil Chili from "Vegan on the Cheap: Great Recipes and Simple Strategies that Save You Time and Money" by Robin Robertson. The French lentils replace the normal beans in the chili and provide a healthy dose of fiber, B-vitamins and protein.

Robertson says, "The tiny green lentils known as French lentils have a great texture for chili because they hold their shape instead of getting mushy. Serve with a warm baguette if you want to accentuate the French accent."

French Lentil Chili
"Vegan on the Cheap" by Robin Robertson
(Makes 4 Servings)
Less than $1.00 per serving

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
1 medium carrot, minced
1 celery rib, minced
3 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cups French lentils
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 Tbsp chili powder (I used 1 1/2 Tbsp)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin (I used 3 tsps)
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp black pepper
3 cups water
1 Tbsp sherry vinegar (optional) (I used 1/2 red wine / 1/2 cooking sherry)

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic. Cover and cook until softened, about 7 minutes.

Add the lentils, tomatoes, chili powder, salt, cumin, thyme, sugar, pepper, and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low.

Cover and simmer until lentils and vegetables are soft, about 50 minutes, adding more water if needed. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in the vinegar, if using. Serve hot.

Notes/Results: Hearty but not heavy and full of flavor. I like the lentils in this, they do hold their shape and have a great toothsome texture to them. I did add extra cumin (because I love it so), and reduced the chili powder slightly (the chipotle chili powder I have is fairly strong), but otherwise kept the recipe the same. When I first tasted it, I thought it was "pretty good" but then I realized I left out the vinegar. Big. Difference. It livens up the flavor and takes it from good to great so don't leave it out. Since I didn't have sherry vinegar sitting around, I just added 1/2 tablespoon of red wine vinegar and 1/2 tablespoon of cooking sherry, but I think most any vinegar would work. A great warming bowl of goodness and served with some fresh multigrain baguette from the farmers market, it was an easy, tasty and inexpensive dinner. I would make this again.

BTW: "Vegan on the Cheap" is a great little book, full of recipes and tips for healthy, delicious vegan eating on a budget. Robinson's other books are excellent too--especially "Vegan Planet" which I have cooked frequently from.

Let's take a look into the Souper Sundays kitchen and see who is here.

If we had an award for the most popular soup / ingredient this week it would be French Onion Soup--with 3 versions of the classic in this week's round up! ;-)

First up is Graziana from Erbe in Cucina who made hers for a multi-course lunch. She says, "I wanted to serve also a soup during the 12 first courses lunch, but but I knew that my guests like strong flavors, so I chose my own version of the famous French Onion Soup: maybe it's not light and healthy as other soups, but it's really tasty."

Pam from Sidewalk Shoes tried Tyler's Ultimate French Onion Soup and says, "Conundrum. I have a slight conundrum with this post. ... I’ve been posting a meatless recipe on Mondays. This soup has beef stock in it. Technically it’s meatless, but not vegetarian. Since I’m not specifically going vegetarian, I’m still going to use it. Conundrum solved. Oh, and it was good. I don’t usually use a cup of red wine in my French Onion Soup, but I will now and forever."

Our final version comes from a new face at Souper Sundays, Nilam from GrowinKitchen, blogging from Indonesia and joining us for the first time this week and needing a bowl of something soupy to feel better. Nilam says, "I remembered my housemate, Irna, once made an onion soup when she caught cold. She said it could warm her body and clear phlegm. This sounded like perfection. Besides, I've always wanted to try Jamie Oliver's Onion Soup recipe. ... Nothing compares to the sweetness of caramelized onions combined with salt, croutons and bubbly melted cheese." Welcome Nilam!

Amritha from AK's Vegetarian Recipe World says, "It was Sunday evening, my husband was taking a nap and I was browsing through my blog to see what new recipe came up. That time I got this update from Deb who hosts the event called Souper Sundays. I got this week's update and the first soup that I saw was this Asian Corn Soup. It was prepared by Deb for her event and I was so thrilled to see that it was all vegetarian. I was just then hunting for some soup recipes and when I found I had 99% of the ingredients at home, I tried it at once. It came out really well." I am glad you liked it too Amritha! ;-)

Joanne at Eats Well With Others made the most of a case of pomegranate juice by creating this Eggplant and Lentil Stew with Pomegranate Molasses. She says, "...I immediately set to making up a batch of pomegranate molasses. Which not only takes up less space in the fridge but is also required for most of the recipes out there that involve pomegranates. Score. Like, for example. This stew. Oh, this stew, which is filled with such complexly delicious flavor. The pomegranate molasses gives it a hint of sweetness and tartness and tang that hits your taste buds from every angle. And it's veggiefull. And antioxidant full. And will help you to live forever."

Reeni over at Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice made this hearty and unique Risotto, Pea and Sausage Soup and says, "A hearty main dish soup with sweet peas, arborio rice and hot Italian sausage. Rich, creamy and flavorful with a hint of sweetness and a touch of spiciness, this is a comforting soup that will satisfy on all levels. ... It's best to serve the soup immediately or the rice will continue to suck up every ounce of the broth; stir additional broth into the soup when reheating leftovers."

It is always fun to have my friend Stephanie, The Happy Sorceress from Dispensing Happiness in the Souper Sundays Kitchen. This week she is here with a Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Soup and says, "Can't go wrong with tomato soup & a grilled cheese sandwich. Garlic & onions, sun-dried & fresh tomato, stock & thyme...simple to prepare & full of flavor. And Fontina melted to perfection on homemade baguette. Happiness."

Janet from The Taste Space has a soup and a salad this week. About her flavorful Brazilian Black Bean Soup she says, "Beans are a good way to add heartiness to a soup, and this is a hearty, healthy and tasty black bean soup. ...the spices brought this soup to the next level: it includes cinnamon, cloves and thyme. Seemingly so different, but a wonderful merriment of content. This soup is like a Brazilian party on your tongue."

Janet's second delicious dish this week is this Thai Tropical Fruit and Tofu Salad and she says, "Adapted from my favourite cookbook Radiant Health, Inner Wealth, this is a Thai salad with a multitude of tropical fruit (I used pineapple, mango, kiwi) with lime-tamari tofu. It is tossed with a sweet and zingy sesame-lime dressing. Served overtop of a bed of baby spinach and topped with a sprinkling of dried coconut and crushed cashews, this is a very tasty main-course salad. You do not need dessert with a main dish as succulent as this."

It's nice to see Lauren from Healthy. Delicious. back this week and with a hearty helping of Steak and Asparagus Salad with Hoisin Dressing. Lauren says, "Topped with steak, onions, and asparagus, this salad is loaded with traditional steakhouse flavors; fresh fruit and a hoisin vinaigrette give it an Asian twist. It’s hearty enough to please the most ardent meat-and-potato lovers but light enough to keep dieters happy. But most importantly, it’s outrageously good. It has a sweet and salty thing going on that’s simply amazing and there are so many interesting textures. My mouth is watering just thinking about it."

Finally we have a gorgeous soup and sandwich combo from Lori at Fake Food Free, this Hummus and Feta Vegetable Sandwich with Cherry Tomato Soup. Lori says, "One of my favorite sandwiches is the Mediterranean Veggie sandwich from Panera Bread. If you haven’t had it, let me explain. It consists of fresh bread piled high with vegetables, but what makes it so tasty to me is the combination of hummus and feta cheese.A few days ago, I decided to try to recreate something similar. ... I paired the sandwich with some easy tomato soup. The only tomatoes we have left in the freezer are yellow and red cherry tomatoes so I decided to give them a try."

Lots of delicious recipes and a little something for everyone to love this week. Thanks to all who joined in. If you have a soup, salad or sandwich that you would like to share, just click on the Souper Sundays logo on the side bar for all of the details.

Have a great week!


  1. Our weather here in New York has been all over the board. One day it's warm and sunny, the next it's windy and cold. I've only cooked with French lentils once--can't seem to find them--but I did enjoy them. Your chili looks very tasty and I wouldn't miss meat at all. Especially with the right bread!

  2. That lentil chili looks amazing, Deb. I love adding a drizzle of vinegar at the end of cooking time or just before service in bean/legums soups...I could just scoop that up with the baguette and be happy as a clam!

  3. Oh, I love lentils and that looks great! Everything looks awesome, thanks!

  4. I love that most basic vegan dishes are both healthy and cheap! Go beans! Glad to hear this soup was a winner, and helped you with the wonky weather.

    Thanks for another great round-up!

  5. The risotto, pea and cabbage soup sounds really intriguing! Cabbage is a new one to toss in there, but it probably works so well.

  6. lentils chili... why I never thought of before? I think I will try it soon, thank for the recipe!

  7. All you had to say was lentils and vegan and I was ALL OVER THIS. I never would have thought that 1 tbsp of vinegar could make such a difference...I'll definitely be more careful never to forget it! Sounds like one delicious chili! Perfect to accompany this fabulous round-up that we have here!

  8. The French lentils sounds wonderful, so flavorful and nutritious, nice!

  9. Wow, a lot of onion soup this week.. :D
    By the way, for the French lentil chili, can I substitute the sherry vinegar with red or white wine vinegar?

  10. Great collection.

    Good advice on always adding vinegar to lentils.

  11. I am being inundated with lentil recipes this week - it's a sign! You're chili looks so thick and hearty! I could use a bowl - the weather here went from 80 degrees to freezing. Thank you for including me in the delicious round-up! Lots of inspiration there.


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