An Ode to Vegetarian Chilli

vege chilli

Not the most appetising of dishes, I'll admit!

The thing about Vege Chilli (VC) is that sure it’s nice on the day you make it, but that’s not what it’s about. The day you make it, time is on your side. You prepare salsa and guacamole too, and serve the whole thing in wraps with cheese and sour cream. It’s good, but the experience is better.

When VC comes into its own however, is about two days later. You’re late home from ‘work’ (inverted commas indicating the non-paying status of the ‘job’, thus necessitating a return home rather than a cheeky pint or two), you’re tired, and, worst of all, if you’re like me at least, you’ve a bad case of Hanger.

Hanger, a unique form of irritability brought on only by hunger, leaves the sufferer crabby, short-tempered and generally anti-social. If you know someone who suffers from Hanger, beware – this is no time for joking. But help is on hand, or at least it is if there is a tupperware full of vegetarian chilli in the fridge. This is not the time to be messing around with fajita fillings, baked potatoes or even rice. This is about refuelling, fast.

And a bowl of vege chilli served with lashings of grated cheese on top just might save the day.


I’d say the quantities here make 4-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are and what you’re having it with. The vegetables are a bit of a whatever-you’re-having-yourself. I used more carrots and only one pepper this time, because that’s what I had in the fridge.

175g (6oz) puy lentils

2 tablespoons sunflower oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 generous teaspoons chilli powder

2 teaspoons cumin

2 peppers, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 x 4oog cans chopped tomatoes

1 heaped tablespoon tomato purée

½ pint vegetable stock

1 small can sweetcorn

1 can kidney beans, drained


  1. Place the lentils in a large bowl and soak in boiling water for about 30 minutes while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Fry the onion, garlic, chilli and cumin together, until the onions are softening.
  3. Add the peppers, carrots and drained green lentils and cook for 5 minutes, stirring all the time.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes, purée and stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes).
  5. Add the sweetcorn and cooked kidney beans and simmer for about 5 more minutes. Season to taste.


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