This vegetarian lentil Cincinnati chili is a snap to make and is basically all pantry items, except for the cheese. Cheddar cheese lasts pretty long, but you can also freeze pre-shredded cheese if that’s better for you in this COVID-19 hellscape.
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Easy Vegetarian Cincinnati Chili
The trick to getting the right texture on vegetarian Cincinnati chili is to use red lentils, not brown or green/French lentils. Red lentils break down more and will basically disintegrate, getting that distinctive Cincinnati chili texture without having to use meat or a blender.
You’ll get the best texture (cloud-like masses) on the cheese if you hand-grate it, but if that’s an accessibility issue, using the grater on your food processor or buy a bag of finely shredded cheese. Or, make it vegan by skipping the cheese or using vegan cheese.
Cloth on table by Fireside Textiles.
Based on Vegan Cincinnati Chili by Oh My Veggies!
- A large stock pot
- Cheese grater or food processor with grater
- 1 TBSP olive oil
Over medium-high heat. Add
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
Cook 3-5 minutes, until softened, stirring frequently. Add
- 4-6 cloves garlic, diced
Cook for another minute.
- 1 TBSP chili powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp paprika
and stir to combine. Cook for another minute and add
- 1 TBSP (15 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 3 cups (360 mL) vegetable broth
- 15 oz (425 g) can tomato sauce
- 8 oz (225) red lentils, rinsed and picked over.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer partially covered for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
While the chili is cooking, prepare
- 16 oz (450 g) spaghetti (whole wheat, white, or gluten-free)
according to the directions.
To serve, place each portion of spaghetti on a plate, bowl-plate or in a bowl.
Top with chili* and cover with
- 5 cups (~6 oz/170 g), divided, very finely shredded mild cheddar cheese or vegan alternative = ~1/4 cup (~1 oz/30 g) shredded cheese per serving (at least).
- Oyster crackers (saltines will do in a pinch)
Add Tabasco sauce to taste.
If you want a four-way or five-way, you can add chopped onions and/or kidney beans.