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Basic Pantry Vegetarian Chili

The easiest pantry vegetarian chili, made with pantry staples. This basic recipe is packed with flavor and high in plant-protein and fiber.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican, vegetarian
Servings: 4


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (red, orange or yellow), diced (optional)
  • 3 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste
  • 1 can (796ml/28oz) diced tomatoes, with juices
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth (no salt added)
  • 1 cup dry green or brown lentils (see notes)
  • 1 can (450ml/19oz) red kidney beans or black beans, drained and rinsed


  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes or until fragrant.
  • Add the bell peppers if using and sauté for another 2 minutes. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, water (or vegetable broth), lentils and beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked and tender.
  • Serve with green onions, black pepper, shredded cheese and sour cream (if not vegan).


You can use any dried lentils you have on hand. Brown, green and French lentils will work. If using red lentils, reduce the simmering time to 15-20 minutes.
If you don't have black or kidney beans, you can use chickpeas or other beans.
If using salted broth, adjust the added salt to taste.