The chili can be made four days ahead and stored in the refrigerator. Reheat it on the stove top before serving.

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Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Boil 3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add ancho chiles and toast, turning frequently, until fragrant and darkened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. (Use a small bowl or plate to keep submerged, if necessary.) Let stand until chiles are very soft, at least 30 minutes.

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  • Meanwhile, place cumin seeds in skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and let cool completely. Grind to a fine powder; set aside.

  • Drain ancho chiles, reserving soaking liquid; remove and discard stems and seeds. Place chiles in mortar and pestle with garlic and chipotle chiles, and pound into a thick paste (or pulse in a food processor). Set aside.

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chopped vegetables and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized and golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Reduce heat if necessary to prevent blackening.)

  • Add cumin and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add chile mixture, tomato paste, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, reserved chile-soaking liquid, lentils, and 5 cups water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

  • Add sweet potatoes, black beans, and black-eyed peas, stirring to combine. Return to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until lentils and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with cilantro and avocado cream.

Reviews (5)

20 Ratings
  • 5 star values: 9
  • 4 star values: 4
  • 3 star values: 3
  • 2 star values: 4
  • 1 star values: 0
Rating: 5 stars
12/18/2017
This recipe is fantastic! It make a large serving and was affordable to make (bought almost all organic ingredients). I made this for a holiday craft party and everyone was commenting on the delicious and subtle, smokey flavor. This would make a great winter staple for batch cooking as well!
Rating: 5 stars
12/10/2017
I don't know how this recipe doesn't have exclusively five stars. EVERY time I make this, I get rave reviews and begged for the recipe. It is one of my staples, and I've made it for family, for entertaining, and even for a team of volunteers as a thank you supper. Vegetarians adore it, but just as importantly - meat eaters go crazy for this as well! It is a complex, delicious dish that I am thrilled I found on here. The avocado cream is also a smash and I've stolen the recipe to use with other dishes. Brava, Martha!
Rating: 5 stars
10/12/2014
I was so skeptical of this recipe - fennel and all that CELERY??? I was wrong. This is one of the best vegetarian chilis we've ever made. I think the spice level can vary widely. I like a somewhat low level of spice and this was not spicy to me. It probably depends on your anchos, etc. We did accidentally throw out the water that the chilis were soaked in and had to use plain water, this may have reduced the spiciness as well. As mentioned before, this makes a HUGE pot of chili. Plenty to freeze
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Rating: 5 stars
10/12/2014
I was so skeptical of this recipe - fennel and all that CELERY??? I was wrong. This is one of the best vegetarian chilis we've ever made. I think the spice level can vary widely. I like a somewhat low level of spice and this was not spicy to me. It probably depends on your anchos, etc. We did accidentally throw out the water that the chilis were soaked in and had to use plain water, this may have reduced the spiciness as well. As mentioned before, this makes a HUGE pot of chili. Plenty to freeze
Rating: Unrated
09/27/2014
This is one of the best chili's I've ever had. It's pretty spicy, but very complex in flavor. Served it to some friends when they came over for game night and it was a huge hit. Also, it makes A TON. Great to freeze a bit for later.