Warm Up: Lentil Chili with Chocolate

Warm Up: Lentil Chili with Chocolate

Recipe by Leah Lizarondo Shannon, The Brazen Kitchen

The word “mole” comes from the Aztec word, “molli” which means “concoction!” This particular medley was incited by what seems to be weeks of gray and unending rain. My body is demanding full-bodied, comforting, stews.

I scanned my pantry and decided to chuck the beans and use my nice Puy lentils. These French lentils are darker and firmer than what is typically available. They hold their shape when cooked, giving your stew an interesting texture.

The real excitement of this dish starts with ginger. Yes. Ginger in your chili. When I am in a hurry, my default slow-cooker dinner is black beans with a bay leaf, salt, pepper and loads of sliced ginger. Add water and that’s it. Ginger? Believe me. Try it.

After the stew was almost done and I was tasting it, I wanted more depth. Roundedness. Smoked Spanish Paprika always does the trick. I added it. Good. But I still wanted MORE. Deeper! I say. I scanned my cupboard blankly…..and there it was. Chocolate! And I remembered mole and all the good feelings that came with eating it. Ah.

Go on. Try it. If only for the shock value. My friends always expect me to say there’s cabbage in the cookies. I turn it around and say there’s chocolate in their chili. GASP!

Concoction. Perfection.


Serves 12


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped (largest you can get!)
  • 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped ginger
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 good super-heaping tablespoon pure cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon Smoked Spanish Paprika
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped finely
  • 1 28-ounce can of crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 10 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 cups French lentils
  • water as needed


  1. Saute the onions, garlic and ginger in oil.
  2. Once the onions are soft, add the chili powder and cumin. Saute for about a scant minute.
  3. Add the lentils and the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil uncovered and then cover and let it simmer on low for 45 minutes to an hour. Adjust water, salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Serve over rice or with hot crusty bread. I also like serving this over chopped dandelion or arugula.
November 5, 2012