------This chili is vibrant with brightness of the chunky vegetables and the salsa combined with the expected richness of chili powder and cumin. Go hotter or milder if you like by substituting mild or hot Salsa for medium. I recommend cornbread and a salad to complete the meal. If you aren't feeding a crowd it should be easy to divide — or freeze the extra. People who prefer to avoid red meat can successfully substitute ground turkey for the ground beef.------ Note -- I originaly changed the title to "Chili-Spiced Lentil Soup with Chunky Vegetable" to reflect its entry into the Soup category of RSC#9. However, that's a very clunky and awkward name so I simplified it once it got back into my hands. :D
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 1 lb dried lentils, washed and picked over
- 2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped. Reserve the juice
- 2 white onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and sliced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, slivered
- 1 (16 ounce) jar salsa, medium heat
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons chili powder (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 6 cups beef stock
- 1⁄2 lb cheddar cheese or 1⁄2 lb monterey jack cheese, shredded
- olive oil, for sauteing
- 1⁄4 cup canned green chili, chopped (optional)
- 1⁄2 cup sour cream (optional)
- hot sauce (optional)
- Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet on medium-high. Brown the ground beef and onions. Drain excess grease.
- Mix beef, lentils, tomatoes, carrots, garlic, salsa, cumin, chili powder, salt, beef stock, and the reserved tomato juice in a large stockpot.
- Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, 30 minutes. Add diced celery. Cook 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally or until lentils and vegetables are tender and flavors are well blended. The chili should be thick but if it becomes too thick add additional beef stock OR tomato juice to achieve the desired consistency.
- Taste and adjust seasonings for desired level of heat. Different brands of chili powder vary in both heat and richness so adjustment is almost always necessary.
- Serve topped with shredded cheese. Garnish with sour cream and green chilis if desired. Pass the hot sauce at the table.
- Note:I prefer Franks for flavor without excessive fire. Others prefered Tropical Pepper Co.'s Scotch Bonnet sauce for excessive fire.