This hearty vegetarian chili is both nutritious and satisfying, thanks to the protein-packed navy beans and brown lentils. We added a generous dose of dried spices and other pantry staples to boost the flavor and make this dish accessible for any night of the week.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of black pepper. Cook until vegetables are just tender and browned in spots, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, chili powder, oregano and cumin, then continue to cook until fragrant and brick-red in color, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.
Stir in the vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, beans (and their liquid), lentils, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a couple grinds of black pepper. Bring to a steady simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Partially cover with a lid and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender and the chili has thickened slightly, 35 to 45 minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and stir in the vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with toppings as desired.
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