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Red Lentil Chili

Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 45 minutes | Total Time: 55 minutes

Ingredients:
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1 (16 oz.) bag of brown lentils
• 2 (14.5 oz.) cans no-salt diced tomatoes
• 1 bay leaf
• 2 (32 oz.) cartons low-sodium vegetable stock
• Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
• 1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Instructions:
1. In a large heavy bottomed Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and red bell pepper. Sautee the vegetables until soft and lightly browned (approximately 7 minutes), stirring occasionally.
2. Stir in garlic, chili powder, cumin and paprika, and cook for 1 minute.
3. Add lentils, tomatoes, bay leaf and stock. Season with salt and ground black pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.
4. (Optional; skip to step 5, if avoiding) Transfer 2 cups of cooked chili into a food processor or blender and process until pureed. Add the pureed chili back into the remaining chili and stir to combine. Taste for salt and pepper.
5. Stir in cilantro and serve.

Notes:
• For more flavor depth, look for canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes in the grocery aisle.
• If you like your chili spicy, add chopped fresh jalapeno, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper for some heat.