This vegetarian slow cooker chili has been a fall favorite for years. It’s thick and hearty and it just tastes so autumn-y and good.
We are up to our ears in firewood right now. A giant, half-dead hemlock towered over our new place, and I, ever the worrywart, wanted it down immediately after we moved in.
So the professionals climbed up and it came down. And we were left with wood. Lots and lots of wood.
We rented a log splitter and my guy, my brother, my nephew, and my sister spent the majority of yesterday taming the giant rounds – some were coffee-table-sized, I’m not kidding – into manageable hunks of firewood.
Me, well, I primarily took up residence inside, working on chili recipes, including this vegetarian pumpkin chili recipe, Crock Pot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili.
I felt sort of lame bowing out of most of the hard labor in the name of babywatching and lunchmaking, but hey … someone’s gotta feed the troops, right?! And besides, this vegetarian pumpkin chili? Totally worth it.
I actually dreamed up this chili last winter, but by the time I got it just about right, it was nearly spring and not really a good time to share a Crock Pot chili recipe. So I made it again yesterday with a couple of final tweaks, and I officially love this one more than ever.
This one is a nice, thick chili with kidney beans, lentils, pumpkin puree, and wonderfully warming spices.
The red lentils soak up all of the flavors and help give this chili its wonderfully hearty texture. And I adore the subtle, unexpected complexities that the pumpkin, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and cloves add to the mix.
I like this one to be fairly spicy (for me) – so I add an jalapeno, seeds and all, for a nice bit of heat. If the jalapeno seems like it’s a bit on the mild side, I’ll add two. A bit of green Tabasco at serving time doesn’t hurt, either.
Yep – this one pretty much the perfect chili for fall. Or wood-cutting days. Or both.
Crock Pot Pumpkin Red Lentil Chili
- 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained
- 2 cups water or vegetable broth
- 2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 cup dry split red lentils
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion (about 1/2 a medium onion)
- 1 medium jalapeno pepper (minced (taste pepper for heat and add another pepper if you like. If you prefer a milder chili, scrape out the seeds before mincing))
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Diced tomatoes
- Diced onions
- Sour cream (or cashew sour cream)
- Shredded cheddar or gruyere (if not vegan)
- Toasted pumpkin seeds/pepitas
- Sliced scallions
- Green Tabasco
- Add all ingredients to a 3-quart or larger Crock Pot. Stir.
- Cook on high for 4 - 5 hours or on low for 8 - 10 hours, until lentils are tender and chili is thick and hearty. Serve with assorted toppings, if desired.
Meat optionI recently made this chili for carnivorous company. About 30 minutes before serving, I cooked up a pound of ground beef in a large saute pan, then scooped about 3/4 of the chili into the pan, covered it, and kept it warm until it was time to eat. The meat-eaters loved the chili and I, as always, loved my meatless version!