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Savory Lentil Chili

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Savory Lentil Chili

Carrie Masek

The weather outside is lovely today: lots of sun, a light breeze and the temperature is heading for 60 degrees F. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow, it’ll be snowing again.

To get ready for a flashback to winter weather, we’re putting together a warming batch of Catie’s Savory Lentil Chili. It’s a very versatile recipe and can be made for vegetarians, vegans or folks like me who love their meat. I like my chili chunky, so I tend to use stewing beef. I marinate the raw beef chunks in the coffee/spice mixture overnight, increase the amount of broth to 4 cups and simmer the chili 1-2 hours, until the beef is tender. I really enjoy it topped with cilantro, chopped tomatoes. and just a drop of Balsamic vinegar.

Here’s Catie’s recipe:

Savory Lentil Chili: A delicious, filling lunch or dinner. Complete on its own. Pairs very well with salad and/or dinner rolls.

This warm and hearty lentil stew is very versatile. It tastes delicious with a wide variety of proteins, plant-based and red or white meats, from tofu to beef. I made this with organic ground beef, but it works well with beef, pork, chicken, tofu, seitan, etc. It can be vegan using veggie broth and plant-based protein, or a carnivore's delight with beef or chicken broth and beef, lamb, pork, or chicken for the meat. Mixing and matching work too.

Time: About 1 hour

Serves 4-6 (depending on bowl size and appetite) :)


Marinade/Rub for meat/protein: (You can mix the protein with the rub beforehand when you set the lentils to soak and let the flavors absorb, or you can mix this together right before you brown the protein. It can also be mixed and set in the fridge for hours/overnight)

1 tsp ground coffee/espresso

1/2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp lime juice (or sour of choice, lemon or any vinegar you enjoy works very well too)

salt & pepper to taste (I prefer fresh ground)


1-2 large onions

1-2 garlic cloves (whole to press or prechopped)

olive oil for cooking (1-2 Tbs, adding more if/as needed or desired)

2 cups lentils (rinsed and presoaked in lightly salted water for 20-40 minutes) Note: Brown/table lentils are heartier and take longer to soak and cook. Red/yellow lentils are more delicate and take less time.

3 1/2 cups broth or additional liquid (if using a broth base, powder or bouillon, use the same amount of base, and add 4 cups total liquid)

1/2 cup brewed coffee

1/2-1 lb ground/cubed meat or protein of choice (1 used 3/4 lb, but it's equally good a little less or more meaty. Ground meat or soft tofu will blend into the lentils more. Chopped meat or cubed firm tofu will be chunkier. Both are tasty.)

1/2 cup fresh sage, coarsely chopped (diced is not necessary, but you don't want big leaf chunks)

1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)

salt & pepper to taste

Optional Toppings:

Cherry tomatoes (halved)

Chopped Parsley or Cilantro

Vinegar of choice (Balsamic or red wine is very tasty, fruity vinegar or even white table vinegar goes well)

Fresh ground pepper


0. Set the lentils to soak and, if desired, marinade your protein. This can be done as the onions are cooking, but I like to give my lentils and protein plenty of time.

1. Chop the onions and caramelize them on low-medium heat in olive oil. Depending on how you enjoy onions and how much time you have, you can sweat the onions to translucent (shorter, ~5 mins, sharper onion flavor) or caramelize them fully to golden soft (longer, ~10-15 mins, sweeter flavor)

2. Press or chop garlic cloves and add to onions, cook until just starting to toast/golden, no more than 5 minutes.

3. Add the marinated meat/protein and brown in the onion/garlic mix for a few minutes.

4. Add soaked lentils (rinsing off the soaking water) and toast them for a few minutes in the onion/protein mix.

5. Add your broth, coffee, sage, and chili powder (for extra heat). Add a grind of fresh salt or pepper if desired. Stir together.

6. Bring the lentil chili to a low boil and let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Stir periodically, scraping the bottom, and add extra broth/liquid (I use water here) if it starts to stick (some lentils will soak up a lot of liquid). The chili should be a thick, smooth consistency with some integrity left in the lentils. Adding more liquid will thin the chili and make it more soup-like than stew-like.

7. Serve warm into bowls, top individual servings with any toppings you want and enjoy!

Note: This chili doesn't have any strong coffee flavor, but the coffee adds a subtle richness and complexity I haven't tasted in other lentils or chilis.

Do you have a favorite recipe to warm unseasonably chilly days? Please share your recipes and thoughts on the Facebook thread or in a comment on this blog. Or, if you'd like to share your opinions about coffee with the wider world, leave us a coffee review on Google or on your favorite review site. Not only do we value your opinions, but reviews help more people find us. Help us connect coffee lovers to fresh, quality coffee!


~ Carrie, Paul and all of us at Coffee by the Roast