Beautiful, super-healthy vegan chilli

I love a beautiful bowl of chilli. It is really tasty and satisfying. However, traditional meat based versions carry too many calories for my low calorie days so I decided to create a new chilli that I can enjoy on those days.

By happy coincidence the resulting beautiful, tasty, super-healthy, low calorie chilli also turned out to be vegan.

Now I am no vegan (check out my other recipes) but I embrace all types of food and I find that really tasty vegan and vegetarian food can help when trying to control calories.

This chilli has lots of things in it that are good for you. It probably has about three and a half of your five pieces of fruit and veg per day in every portion (although don’t quote me on that – I am no nutritionistšŸ˜ƒ).

This recipe makes enough for eight generous portions that each contain approximately 275 calories.

Simply serve the chilli on its own or with whatever accompaniment you usually have with chilli. Some suggestions are:

  • Boiled or steamed rice.
  • Nachos.
  • Baked potato.
  • Blitz cauliflower and roast for ten minutes to make cauliflower “rice”.
  • A dollop of sour cream.

If you are trying to keep calories low then either eat the chilli on its own or with cauliflower rice (or a small amount of boiled or steamed rice).

2 teaspoons oil (I used rapeseed / canola)
2 large onions
3 medium carrots
2 sticks of celery
Garlic puree (about 3 cloves)
2 tablespoons tomato puree
2 x 400 g tins of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon hot chilli powder
1 tablespoon mild chilli powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon hot curry powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
500 g dried green lentils (I used green speckled lentils)
1 1/2 litres vegetable stock


Roughly chop the onions and carrots (I like to leave the carrot pieces quite large to give the finished chilli a bit of extra texture) and chop the celery slightly finer.

Heat the oil in a large pan and then fry the onion, carrot and celery over a moderately high heat for five minutes, stirring frequently until the onions are soft and taking on some colour.

Then stir in the garlic and tomato puree and heat through before adding the chopped tomatoes and all of the spices and herbs. I find it easiest to get all of the herbs and spices measured out into a little cup whilst the veg is frying so I can simply throw them all in the pan in in one go. Stir the pan so that the herbs and spices are thoroughly mixed in with the tomatoes and veg.

Add the lentils to the pan and stir to mix.

Add the stock to the pan, stir to mix and bring to the boil. Now simply simmer gently for a couple of hours, stirring every now and then.

The long slow cooking really lets the flavour mature. If the chilli gets a bit too dry (or if all the liquid is absorbed before the lentils are cooked) then add a little more water. Add salt to taste.

Once cooked I turn off the heat and just leave the pan sitting there for several hours (I actually left it for about 11 hours overnight). This allows the chilli to cool down but, more importantly, it lets the flavour mature further, especially the lovely smokiness from the paprika. However, if you are worried about leaving food out for so long you can simply refrigerate or freeze as soon as the chilli is cool.

That’s it!” Simple! Now you have a beautiful, super-healthy, vegan, low calorie bowl of chilli. YumšŸ˜ƒ

You can eat straight away but I think chilli is like all stews and the flavour gets better if you can bear to leave it to mature for a day.

This chilli freezes well. Just portion it out before freezing and then defrost and heat up in a microwave when you want to eat a portion.

Suggestions for modifying this recipe

  • Change the level of heat by varying the amount of spices, particularly the chilli powders.
  • Use your favourite types of chilli (e.g. Chipotle)
  • Try adding your favourite beans to the chilli. If dried just make sure they are rehydrated first.