False Alarm Vegetable Chili


This is one of Joe Bonanno's most popular firehouse dishes. Choose a chili powder that suits your taste for heat. Leave the pot uncovered during simmering to allow excess water to evaporate and the chili to thicken.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces

  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces

  • 1 large carrot, chopped medium

  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced, or ¼ cup drained canned chopped green chiles

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 pound dried lentils, rinsed

  • cup tomato paste

  • 1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes

  • cup chili powder

  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, green and red peppers, carrot, jalapeno pepper, and garlic. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in 7 cups water, lentils, tomato paste, kidney beans, and pinto beans. Stir to blend, adding stewed tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, and crushed red-pepper flakes.

  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. If the chili starts to dry out, add hot water as needed. Season with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

Related Articles