Sweet Potato and Lentil Chili

For our inaugural Happy Hour of the school year, I made this Sweet Potato and Lentil Chili. Honestly, I was looking for a recipe that would be cheap and low-maintenance, since I figured we’d be serving a bit of a crowd (I think we had 19 adults and a little under 10 kids show up). In terms of foods that are filling, cheap and healthy, you can’t go wrong with sweet potatoes and lentils (unless you’re paleo, but then you’re also not going to put sour cream and cheese on top of the finished recipe, and you also shouldn’t be complaining about free food and drinks at somebody else’s house. Fortunately for me, nobody complains… to me, anyway).

In fact, a lot of people really loved this soup! I liked it better the next day, but something might have been wrong with my tastebuds that day because I also thought my salsa (same recipe every week for 2+ years now) tasted funky and everyone else thought it was fine. In retrospect, I’d call it a win on all fronts.

(Also, if you are tripling the recipe like I did, feel free to use your food processor liberally in food prep. I had 6 bell peppers, 3 large onions and 9 sweet potatoes to dice. First of all, if you’re not cutting an onion like this, you are wasting a lot of time and you should give it a try. Secondly, I used the “slicer” attachment on my food processor for the bell peppers and the blade for the sweet potatoes — after I peeled them and cut them into large chunks, I filled the food processor bowl about 1/3 full and pulsed it until I got my desired texture, which was a lot of pieces the side of my onion chunks, some that were smaller, and a few large chunks. I still spent about an hour in front of the food processor but if I’d been doing it by hand, it would have taken me all day.)

Sweet Potato and Lentil Chili
(original recipe here)

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 bell peppers (any color), diced
3 medium sweet potatoes, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 c vegetable broth (this makes the recipe vegan; I used beef “better than bouillon”)
1 15-oz can diced tomatoes with chiles (Ro-tel cans are 11 oz; I try to used canned tomatoes that are BPA free, Muir Glen organics is the brand I can get easily in Billings)
1 c lentils, rinsed
2 Tablespoons chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper, to taste

In a large pot, saute onion and bell peppers in olive oil until they are tender. Add garlic and sweet potatoes and saute until garlic is soft. Add everything except the lentils, bring to a boil and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender (at least half an hour). Add lentils and cook until they are soft (another 20 min or so). It’s okay to cook longer – lentils don’t tend to get too mushy easily.

Serve with sour cream, shredded cheese, tortilla chips, cilantro, extra hot sauce and other garnishes of choice!