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Red Lentil Chili, Hold the Meat!

April 13, 2011

I’m pretty sure my freshman-year college roommate would faint if she heard I had given up meat this past week. And it’s not for lent, either. I’m not religious, and I love meat, so what would provoke me into giving it up? Michael Pollen, that’s who. It’s not the first time he’s turned me off meat. After reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, I was a tad bit repulsed with the American meat industry. So much so that I haven’t eaten corn-fed beef since. I will only purchase cage-free eggs. I try to eat organic, or at least hormone-free meat. But I definitely take liberties, especially when eating out. Lately, I’ve gotten a bit more lax. Then Michael Pollen showed up on Oprah again last week to give me a reminder.

I’m not here to preach or make you feel guilty, but this blog is about food, and I think we all need to be aware of what’s being put into our bodies. We are what we eat, after all. With this in mind, I made a meat-free run to the grocery store and came home armed to make some delicious vegetarian meals, like this warm and hearty Red Lentil Chili.

You won’t miss the meat. Really. I know every vegetarian says that, but with this dish it’s true. Protein-packed lentils, a spicy broth, and the extra punch of a little Soyrizo. That’s soy chorizo. I know, I know! I never thought I’d ever buy it, let alone eat it and actually like it, but it’s quite tasty. Chorizo is all about the paprika anyway, so this is just a vegetarian vehicle for delivering that spicy punch. So challenge yourself to go meat-free, at least this once. Trust me, it ain’t so bad. In fact, it can be downright delicious!

Red Lentil Chili

© Copyright 2011 Carly Sullivan, Tart to Heart

Serves: 4


  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 oz Soyrizo, casing removed
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/8-1/2 tsp cayenne, depending on your love for spice!
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (I like Kitchen Basics because it has a deep color and flavor)
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree/sauce
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup scallions, chopped
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Heat 2 tsp olive oil in a large saucepot over medium-high heat until rippling. Add the onions and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute.
  2. Push the veggies to the edges of the pan and add the soyrizo to the center. Break apart with a spoon and let brown, stirring to cook all sides.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano and cayenne and stir to combine. Cook 1 minute.
  4. Add the stock, tomato sauce, and lentils to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Once cooked, add the vinegar and season with salt to taste (I added about 1/2 tsp, but it will depend on how salty your stock was).
  5. Pour into bowls, garnish with green onions, and enjoy! A little shredded cheese or sour cream wouldn’t be amiss here, either.

I was definitely wishing I still had some of last week’s Herbed Skillet Cornbread to eat with my bowl of chili, but it was plenty filling on its own. I wasn’t left hungry or wanting after devouring my bowlful. Vegetarian food can be hearty and comforting, too. I’m sure I’ll go back to meat soon enough, but I’m sure I’ll appreciate it even more when I do!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 13, 2011 1:17 pm

    I’d have to check with you here. Which is not something I commonly do! I enjoy reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

  2. April 13, 2011 5:19 pm

    Mmm, looks delicious! I’ve never heard of soyrizo before, but I’ll look for it the next time I go grocery shopping. Thanks for the creative idea!

    • April 13, 2011 5:57 pm

      Thanks! I found the soyrizo with the tofu and meat-alternative stuff in the dairy section of my grocery store. I was a little apprehensive to try it since I’m not a tofu fan, but it really did taste good! It’s great scrambled together with some eggs for breakfast too.

  3. April 14, 2011 9:18 am

    I totally understand how you feel after reading Michael Pollan. His book In Defense of Food definitely changed my life in terms of what I eat. I buy organic as much as possible and have mostly given up meat because I am sickened to know where it comes from. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I think humans shouldn’t eat meat, but we shouldn’t be eating meat from animals who are treated the way they currently are. I’ve generally given up meat because it’s very hard to find meat that was humanely farmed and is hormone/drug free.

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