Vegetarian Lentil and Three Bean Chili
5 from 2 votes

Pantry Stew: Vegetarian Lentil and Three Bean Chili

This recipe calls for ingredients found in most real food pantries: beans, lentils, and canned tomatoes. The basic ingredients come together to create a flavorful and "meaty" chili--without actually using any meat.

Course Soup
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 86 kcal
Author Kristin Marr


  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large green bell pepper diced (about 3/4-1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 4 TB chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups vegetable broth If you're a meat-eater, chicken broth may be used.
  • 1 cup dried green lentils* rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas/garbanzo beans drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes or 2-14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, if that's what you have in your pantry
  • 1 4-ounce can diced green chilis**
  • 1 tsp salt to taste***
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • avocado slices optional
  • chopped cilantro optional
  • shredded cheddar cheese optional
  • sour cream optional


  1. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat.

  2. Add the onion, bell pepper, and carrots. Saute the veggies until the onions become translucent and the carrots and peppers begin to soften, about 4-5 mins.

  3. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and bay leaves. Saute the spice mixture for about 30 seconds. 

  4. Add the broth and lentils, and stir to combine.

  5. Bring to the lentil mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, then cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils soften. 

  6. Add the pinto beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, diced tomatoes, diced green chilis, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine the ingredients, and continue cooking for 25 more minutes, until the beans are soft. 

  7. Taste the chili, and add more salt if needed. Serve warm, with your choice of toppings. 

Recipe Notes

*I use green lentils in this recipe, because that's what I stock in my pantry. I think red lentils will also work, and they'll probably soften very quickly. 

**You can use mild or hot diced green chilis in this recipe. I use a can of hot diced green chilis. If you'd like additional heat/flavor, you're welcome to increase this amount to two cans. This really depends on your personal preference. 

***I don't add salt to my homemade broth, so I've found that I'm always increasing the salt amount in soups/stews. This amount will really depend on your taste preferences. I personally use about 2 teaspoons of salt in this recipe. Laura used 1 teaspoon. I recommend starting with 1 teaspoon of salt, and then increasing the amount until the flavor is just right.