Lentil and Kidney Bean Chilli

As I’ve already posted an extremely delicious Beef Chilli I thought it would be best to share my recipe for the vegetarian version. To be honest it must be admitted that over the past couple of weeks I’ve fallen off the band wagon of health, so my next few posts shall be dedicated to rectifying this relapse. I think it’s the shock of doing lots of shifts in work that has forced me into my old and particularly sordid ways. However, autumn food is generally of the sort that can be cooked in advanced and left on the stove for heating up and or dipping into – which is why it is also some of my favourite.

First of all, it should be said that it has been remarked that this dish absolutely doesn’t miss the presence of meat. The lentils provide it with body, almost meat-like in texture, which would confuse even the most turgid and morose of carnivores. On a more serious note, why do some people insist on having meat with every single meal? After watching quite a few episodes of Come Dine With Me, a British dinner party show, it has become apparent that if there isn’t meat in the main course at least two of the guests refuse to be happy – something which I find a little naïve and childish. For instance, in this dish, the inclusion of dark chocolate more than makes up for any richness that may be left wanting due to the lack of meat. In fact, it might be said that chocolate works in this dish better than beef does, since chilli and chocolate is an age old combination – just ask the Mayans.

Lentil and Kidney Bean Chilli

Serves 4-5


• 400g tin of kidney beans

• A generous handful of red split lentils

• 1 large onion, finely chopped

• 1 pepper, finely sliced

• 2 cloves of garlic, mashed

• 2 x 400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes

• 1 generous tablespoon of dark chocolate, chopped

• 1 tbsp tomato puree

• Olive oil

• 2 tsp balsamic vinegar

• 2 chillies, finely chopped

• 1 ½ tsp ground cumin

• ½ tsp ground cinnamon

• 2 bay leaves

• Seasoning


1. Begin by frying off the onion, garlic, cumin and cinnamon in a generous slosh of oil. Cook until the onion is translucent and soft, add the pepper and chillies and cook for a further 5 minutes.

2. Tip in the tins of plum tomatoes, tomato puree, balsamic vinegar, bay leaves and chocolate, stir until all combined. Then add the lentils and kidney beans, simmer until the lentils are just tender – one may need to add a little water. Serve with a dollop of natural yoghurt or crème fraîche and garnish with a little fresh coriander.

Cost: As one might imagine the exclusion of meat from this dish reduced its cost per portion rather significantly – the kidney beans cost 16p! Indeed, one should expect to pay roughly £1.20 for the entire meal, bringing each portion in at a mouth-wateringly low 30p, if not less.

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64 comments on “Lentil and Kidney Bean Chilli

  1. spree
    October 1, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Deliciously written post. Can hardly wait to try your chili. So agree with you about some people’s peevish insistence upon meat at every dinner. How sad for them – look no further to see some of what they’re missing!

  2. cookinginsens
    October 1, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    This looks fantastic and delicious. While I don’t think I would refuse to be happy at a meatless dinner party of well prepared food, I would notice that there was no meat. Not in a bad way, and it wouldn’t ruin my enjoyment of the meal, but I would notice.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      I honestly don’t think I would, unless someone else pointed it out. I’m glad you liked it.

  3. thesquarerootofapplepie
    October 1, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    Chocolate in chili!? I’m a little skeptical, but I’ll have to take your word for it!
    Also, your pictures are beautiful! Great presentation 🙂


  4. lambyknits01
    October 1, 2011 at 7:48 pm

    Yum! Bookmarked – thanks for sharing. I’m always looking for new meatless meals and I love red lentils 🙂

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 8:52 pm

      Awesome! Hope you enjoyed it if and when you make it 😀

  5. ceciliag
    October 1, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    that is unusual, and interesting. must smell divine whilst cooking! c

  6. thebigfatnoodle
    October 1, 2011 at 8:14 pm

    Anything with lentils already gets my vote but then you go and add chocolate!?! (drooling…!) :)) it looks great, lovely idea and very unique!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm

      I don’t see why it;s unique, I’ve seen quite a few recipes that include chocolate. It works very very well.

    October 1, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    This looks addictive. A great chili doesn’t always need meat. I’ve never used balsamic vinegar in a chili, but it seems like a great idea!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 9:00 pm

      It is, it is! Thanks for linking me btw 😀

  8. Jen R
    October 1, 2011 at 8:28 pm

    Chocolate and balsamic, will be adding to my chilli, got me curious!!

  9. Arturo Féliz-Camilo
    October 1, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    The chocolate!! wow!!! Will have to try that!!!

  10. Dalai Lina
    October 1, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Now, in the US we would be putting Frito chips on top of that!!!

  11. gfcelebration
    October 2, 2011 at 12:31 am

    This looks fabulous and the chocolate makes it doubly tempting.

  12. Allyssa
    October 2, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Chocolate in chili? That is one awesome recipe! Looks delicious!

  13. Smedette
    October 2, 2011 at 4:32 am

    Delicious! I like the addition of chocolate.

  14. Joanne
    October 2, 2011 at 4:36 am

    I love kidney beans…but really I love most beans! Cannelinis, black beans, pinto beans, I could go on and on. Great dish!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 9:06 pm

      Me too! But they do taste largely similar 😛

  15. VincentWoolley
    October 2, 2011 at 10:10 am

    sounds really, good its nice to have a none meat option

  16. Grace@ FoodFitnessFreshair
    October 2, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Vegetarian chili is my favorite in the winter. It’s so hearty and warm-feeling. Love it!

  17. alternative eating
    October 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    This sounds amazing…love the chocolate part:)

  18. nataliadecuba
    October 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Wow, LOVE the chocolate idea….

  19. amrodrig
    October 2, 2011 at 8:45 pm

    Sounds amazing, have been looking for a great vegetarian meal for fall and winter!

  20. Amy
    October 3, 2011 at 2:32 am

    Perfect for this cold weather coming! Yum.

  21. Kay aka Babygirl
    October 3, 2011 at 5:47 am

    I am not a huge kidney bean fan, but you definitely have me looking at this recipe in a new light. I might have to try this 🙂

  22. thecompletecookbook
    October 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Ooh love this – I must try it on my carnivorous hubby!
    Have a great week.
    🙂 Mandy

  23. Aimee@clevermuffin
    October 3, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Chocolate?!? Wow, I never would of guessed. But I’m seriously keen to make my chilli con carne sans meat and plus lentils now. You’re not going to believe this – but your Chilli Beef is currently bubbling away on my stove. Now I’m kicking myself I didn’t go the vego version!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 3, 2011 at 9:10 pm

      You’re right, I don’t believe it :D. You could just make this chilli tomorrow :D. You’ll love it!

  24. sundayinthekitchen
    October 3, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I love the idea of chocolate in this! I’ve put chocolate in meat chilis but never a lentil based veggie chili. Great tip, I’ll have to try it!

  25. chicaandaluza
    October 4, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Looks and sounds beautiful! We eat a lot of pulses here in Andalucia…don´t miss meat when we have so much flaour going on in a dish!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 4, 2011 at 5:24 pm

      I eat so many pulses these days, they make me feel far better.

  26. FreshlyMinted
    October 5, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    LOVE that this has dark chocolate – a food group in itself if you ask me : ) I’ll try this for sure!

  27. postgradmel
    October 6, 2011 at 3:53 am

    This looks delicious! I always love a good chili, but have never thought of adding lentils before!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 6, 2011 at 10:37 pm

      It really bulks it out and makes it that little more… meaty.

  28. Hungry Student
    October 6, 2011 at 5:42 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious. I’ll have to try it sometime!

  29. shanaroth
    October 7, 2011 at 3:04 am

    I love the idea of the lentils in this dish! Can’t wait to make it!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 10, 2011 at 10:31 am

      They sort of do the same job as meat in the dish.

  30. The Swedish Chef
    October 7, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    This looks great! Definitely chili weather where I live. I LOVE vegetarian chili, although I think my boyfriend would consider it sacriligeous if I tried to cook some for him.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 10, 2011 at 10:46 am

      Thanks! The weather is so cold and windy here at the moment 🙁

  31. Jules
    October 11, 2011 at 6:16 am

    Here I was, practically ready to go to sleep and now all I want to do is cook this chili. What a lovely way to sneak another vegetarian meal onto the table without my family noticing.

  32. katonasoapbox
    April 21, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I’ve been regularly thinking that I want to try this since you blogged it Nick. And hurrah, tonight was the night on which I finally sampled its delights! My mother cooked it but it was utterly delicious. A foolproof recipe I feel! I had it with brown rice, tortilla crisps, Greek yoghurt and salad. Nom indeed.

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