Simple Last Minute Lentil Chili

Raise your hand if you’re busy this week. (Unless, of course, your hands are in the middle of de-boning a turkey. You can just give me a nod.)

Our oldest son is home from college right now, so we are a family of six again. So what if he’s been “away,” living in his college dorm only 8 blocks from home? We don’t see him much and we miss him. Having him home for longer than five minutes has been a joy.

I would say that we’re taking life easy while we prepare for Thanksgiving, but would you believe our son #2 has two huge projects due for his online college history class on Thanksgiving day? What? And yes, he would have had them done ahead of time except that it wasn’t possible because of all the other projects he had due before these.

I’m telling you, these online classes my kids take are threatening to kill us all with a long slow death. (The on-campus classes are much more managable.) Well, anyway.

We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year for 15-20 people from town. Then we’ll head to Kansas to celebrate “Thanksmas” with my side of the family. I baked the turkeys over the weekend. The green bean casserole is in the freezer. Slowly but surely I’m pulling the meal together so that come Thursday, I can actually enjoy the day instead of cooking and cleaning for hours!

In the meantime, the six of us still need to eat regular meals. (They didn’t like the idea of fasting in preparation for Thanksgiving. Whatever.)

Meals like this Simple Last Minute Lentil Chili are amazing for weeks like this! Thaw no meat. Soak no beans. Just go to the stove and put this soup together.

Truth: I didn’t think I would like chili that didn’t have meat in it.

I am such a meat loving girl! We are a meat loving family.

But in fact: My family didn’t even notice this didn’t have meat in it until I told them an hour after they ate it. “Really?” they said, “It tasted like it did!”



Simple Last Minute Lentil ChiliYum

Simple Lentil Chili
Serves: 4-6
  • 3 Tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tsp. chili powder
  • 16 ounces dry lentils
  • 32 ounces tomato sauce
  • 32 ounces vegetable or chicken broth*
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large pot, heat and stir olive oil with minced onion, garlic, and red pepper.
  2. Add chili powder, lentils, tomato sauce, and broth.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer for about 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  5. Serve with cheese and/or sour cream if desired.


Let this chili recipe save you some evening this week while you’re busy preparing to host or travel!

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Don’t do all the work yourself! Let Simple Meals save your family time!


Do you have big plans for Thanksgiving?


  1. says

    Can I just tell you that your posts warm my heart. Today’s just brought tears of laughter and thankfulness to my eyes when I read about your son coming home from 8 blocks away. My daughter is a mere 35 min drive and I see her every other week or so (big blessing for sure), but I miss her too and can’t wait for her to get home tomorrow! And then to top it off my family also isn’t crazy about the fasting idea before Thanksgiving so your “thaw no meat” lentil recipe rang truer to my heart than ever! Who doesn’t love a quick thaw no meat recipe? And I’m using 5 of your make ahead recipes that I need to bring this year to bring to my sister’s house. So much more at ease with these. I’m Thankful for your amazing wonderful fast simple ideas and that you share them!!! Happy Thanksgiving!


  2. Tisha says

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe, Laura! I have been wanting to add a new soup or chili to my cooking rotation, and this looks like the perfect addition to our fall/winter soup schedule. I hope to be able to try it out this week.

    I appreciate you and your wonderful site so much!

    Blessings to you and your family! :o)


  3. Stephanie says

    This is just perfect. I was just trying to come up with something quick and easy and nourishing with ingredients I already had on hand and this fit the bill. I did decide to add 1 tsp. of cumin, because we like the flavor it adds and I think since I have time I am going to whip up a pan of cheesy cornbread. Thanks for the fabulous recipe.


  4. Kristi says

    I’m totally making this tomorrow. I’ve got some lentils from my Azure Advantage box a couple months back burning a hole in my pantry. Thanks for the recipe!


  5. Alyss says

    Is the “dried red pepper” in the ingredient list dried red sweet pepper (bell pepper), or something spicy? For some reason I don’t see any spices just titled “dried red pepper” in my local store. If it is something unavailable to me, would paprika work as a substitute? Thank you!


    Laura Reply:

    It’s spicy. Maybe look for “Crushed Red Pepper?” Or skip it altogether for less of a kick!


  6. Kristina says

    I tried this recipe (with adjustments) tonight and after an hour, the lentils haven’t yet softened. Do they soften in only a half hour for you? Do you use a certain type of lentil?


    Laura Reply:

    Yes, mine got soft in only a half an hour. How long did it take yours to soften? I used regular brown lentils.


    Kristina Reply:

    I used brown lentils. It took over an hour and still some of them are not totally soft. Do you leave the lid on when simmering? I had it tilted but later I thought maybe I should leave it on all the way, so I did that and added more salt to help them soften up.


    Laura Reply:

    I did leave the lid on while it simmered, so that helped them cook faster I guess. Not sure why yours took longer, but I guess every stovetop is a little different. Hope the chili tasted yummy for you!!

  7. DebbieKlausing says

    Kristina, I have had that happen in the past and I think it was because the lentils were old. I have made lentil stew a lot over the years, so that’s the only reason I could figure, since I always make it the same. They may be already old when we buy them, who knows? I have also heard that the acidity in the tomatoes can hinder them getting soft.
    Thanks for all the good recipe ideas, Laura!


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