Crockpot Vegetarian Chili

Hey y’all! Welcome to my first post here on #RWC! If we’re not already acquainted, read a little more about me, and the group, over on our bios page.

 

For my first recipe, I thought I’d share one of my go-to’s. I’m a pescatarian and about a year ago, I realized I was not getting enough protein in my diet. I’d fallen prey to the easy trap of eating too many carbs and cheese, and not enough well-rounded meals. I went my standby, Pinterest, and searched protein-heavy vegetarian and vegan recipes, finding some amazing stuff. This vegetarian chili from Better Homes and Gardens * fit the bill, and over time, I’ve changed it and made it my own.

The beauty of this recipe is three-fold:

  • I see this as a base recipe. It’s easily customizable for your palette and your pantry: I add different ingredients depending on what I’m in the mood for and what I have on hand. Black beans? Sure. Garbanzos: Why not? Extra onions and garlic? Sure!
  • It’s now a crockpot recipe, because who doesn’t love a meal that takes care of itself? Stir every so often, and yum, chili.
  • This recipe makes a lot of food. I normally make it on a Sunday, portion it into plastic containers, and get three weeks (!!!) of lunches from it. I freeze the majority of it and then pull containers out to defrost a day or two before I want them. With a nice garden salad, it’s filling and so easy for a low-effort workday lunch (which is the best kind.)

Ingredients

  • 4 14 1/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 15-ounce can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (I like low-salt, but regular is fine too) 
  • 1 16-ounce package of frozen chopped onions, green and red peppers
  • cups dry red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • tablespoons garlic powder
  • 8-ounce jar tomato sauce 
  • 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp Old Bay
  • 1 tbsp dried Parsley
  • at least 1/2 cup vegetable stock, more to taste
  • any other spices, to taste. Good ones might include celery salt, oregano, rosemary, bay leaves…the possibilities are endless.

Tools:

  • A crockpot (or large stew pot)

First, in go the lentils! 

Lentils in the crockpot
You might be saying, hey, wait, those aren’t red lentils as called for in the recipe! I really wanted to make this recently and only had brown lentils on hand, so I just went with those. Versatility for the win.

 

Next up: a mixture of frozen red, yellow and green peppers, and chopped frozen onions.  If you want a more veggie-hearty chili, try adding a bag of each vegetable. This time, I had this on hand and I needed to finish out a bag of frozen chopped onions, so those went in too.

Red kidney beans in next.

(For my fellow Mad Men fans: All I could think of after taking this photo was “Welcome to the Bean Ballet”)

 

Add in the rest of the ingredients, including one cup of the vegetable stock.

After adding all the ingredients, give it a good stir. Pop the top on, and cook on low for six to eight hours, depending on your crockpot and how done you like your lentils. I like mine fairly squishy, so this was an eight-hour batch. If it starts getting too thick, add water, broth or stock in 1/3 cup increments to your liking.

If you’re going to freeze it, I find a little extra thickness is good. It thins just a bit in the microwave, so if it’s a perfect consistency right away, it will be too watery after microwaving.

For freezing: Portion into freezer- safe containers, and let it cool until it’s no longer steamy. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Thanks for stopping by my first post! If you make this, comment with your variations and let me know how you like it! 

-Amy

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