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Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Cream


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Rate this recipe 4.3/5 (6 Votes)


  • 3 ancho chiles, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle chiles in adobo
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large fennel bulb, finely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 5 stalks celery, finely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 cup tomato paste
  • 2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup dried brown lentils
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 6 1/2 cups)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
  • Cilantro leaves, for serving
  • Avocado Cream, for serving (see Recipe on Key Ingredient)


Servings 5
Adapted from


Step 1

Step 1
Boil 3 cups water in a medium saucepan. Meanwhile, heat a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add ancho chiles and toast, turning frequently, until fragrant and darkened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a medium mixing bowl and cover with boiling water. (Use a small bowl or plate to keep submerged, if necessary.) Let stand until chiles are very soft, at least 30 minutes.

Step 2
Meanwhile, place cumin seeds in skillet over medium heat and toast, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately transfer to a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and let cool completely. Grind to a fine powder; set aside.

Step 3
Drain ancho chiles, reserving soaking liquid; remove and discard stems and seeds. Place chiles in mortar and pestle with garlic and chipotle chiles, and pound into a thick paste (or pulse in a food processor). Set aside.

Step 4
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chopped vegetables and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until caramelized and golden brown, 45 minutes to 1 hour. (Reduce heat if necessary to prevent blackening.)

Step 5
Add cumin and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add chile mixture, tomato paste, and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, reserved chile-soaking liquid, lentils, and 5 cups water. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes.

Step 6
Add sweet potatoes, black beans, and black-eyed peas, stirring to combine. Return to a simmer and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until lentils and potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Serve with cilantro and avocado cream.


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