Lentil, Black Bean and Chicken Chili

“Chilly weather calls for chili.”

At my house, I usually don’t make chili.  My husband has an award-winning recipe that everyone loves.  But with the cold winter of 2014 and several visits from the polar vortex, I’m feeling the need for hearty comfort food and a hot bowl of chili seems to fit.

This recipe is chock full of protein – sure to keep your belly full with one bowl!

Lentil, black bean and chicken chili

Lentil, black bean and chicken chili

Lentil, black bean and chicken chili

1½ cup dry lentils (the small ones)

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 large onion, diced

3-4 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tbsp. chili powder

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. sea salt

1, 20 oz. can of diced tomatoes, undrained

1, 10 oz. can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, undrained

1 lb. ground chicken

4, 8 oz. cans of tomato sauce

2, 15 oz. cans of black beans, rinsed and drained

Place the lentils in a large saucepan and cover with water by several inches.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are tender, but not mushy – about 10-15 minutes.  Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a large stockpot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until the onion softens.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes.  Be careful not to let the garlic burn.  Add the ground chicken and brown the meat, while breaking it down into small pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, oregano, cumin and salt.  Mix together.  Add the spices mixture to the stockpot.  Stir well to combine, allowing it to cook into the meat mixture.

Add the tomatoes (with their juices), the tomato sauce and beans to the stockpot.  Stir well to combine.  Cover and simmer so the flavors can blend together for about 10-15 minutes.  Fold in the lentils and let cook another 5 minutes.  Serve warm.

You can simply top a bowl of the chili with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped green onions and a dollop of sour cream.  Or as my husband likes it, top it with sliced jalapeños.  I served it on top of brown rice for an entrée.

It makes a large batch that serves 8 – enough to eat some now and freeze some for another time.

Do you have a favorite chili recipe?

Have you ever entered your chili in a chili cook off?