Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Lentil Chili

The holidays are over, the tree and decorations have all been tidied up until next year, and we are just settling in for the rest of winter. We’ve been a bit relaxed over here in the Sparkle Kitchen lately. Especially Ketch: 

Quiet nights in demand unpretentious dinner. We are already slacking from our first month of marriage, during which time I insisted on eating at the table on our gorgeous new plates. We slowly drifted to the kitchen counter. Paper towels napkins returned to the table. Aaaand now we’re comfortable on the couch, in PJs, eating a bowl of healthy chili with – gasp – mismatched bowls! I know, I know, I’ve completely let myself go. Betty Draper would be ashamed. 

We enjoyed this chili with my zucchini-mozzarella squares and they were a perfect combination.The chili has enough chili powder to be recognizable as a “chili”, but the sweet potato and lentils provide enough interesting flavor dimension to make it worth sharing. The lentils are a great substitute for all of the beans that are traditionally in chili, and they have enough “meaty” flavor that the beef isn’t missed, either. 

My husband had his chili topped with leftover chicken, lots of grated sharp cheddar cheese and saltines: 

I have been accused of finding a way to incorporate sweet potatoes into everything imaginable. Although I don’t understand if this is a compliment or an insult, I have to admit that it’s completely true. I love them. Me + sweet potatoes = true love. Forever. They’re flavorful, but take on other flavors well. They’re easy to dress up or dress down. We just go everywhere together, me and sweet potatoes. 

In any event, I hope that you try this dish when you’re serving dinner to favorite vegetarians, or when you’re looking for something comforting but not overly indulgent. And don’t worry, I have no problem if you also fall madly in love with the sweet potato. We don’t have an exclusive relationship. 

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Lentil Chili

Serves 8 

You will need:
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 4 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. paprika
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. each salt and pepper
  • 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth 
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups lentils, rinsed
  • 29 ounces black beans
  • 8 ounces diced green chilis, rinsed and drained
  • 8 ounces Rotel tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp. tomato paste
  • Shredded cheddar cheese, to serve (optional)
  • Sliced avocado, to serve (optional)

  • Combine onion, garlic, and olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. 
  • Saute until the mixture becomes fragrant and stir in celery and carrots for approximately five additional minutes. 
  • Add spices and continue to stir for two more minutes. 
  • Pour in six cups of chicken broth, cubed sweet potato, lentils, green chilis, Rotel, and tomato paste. 
  • When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. 
  • Pour in black beans and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Add extra broth, if needed. 
  • Remove bay leaves. 
  • Serve hot with cheddar and sliced avocado. 
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