1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
2 Tbsp avocado or coconut oil
1 small jalapeño, diced with seeds (remove seeds or reduce or omit for less heat)
1/2 tsp each sea salt and black pepper (divided // plus more to taste)
3 Tbsp chili powder (divided // NOT chili flakes or cayenne pepper)
4 cloves garlic (4 cloves yield ~2 Tbsp)
1 tsp smoked paprika
2 Tbsp ground cumin (divided)
3 Tbsp tomato paste
2 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes (if unsalted, add more sea salt)
1 3/4 cup water (plus more as needed)
1 15-ounce can kidney beans (slightly drained)
1 15-ounce can black beans (slightly drained)
3/4 cup dry red lentils thoroughly rinsed in cold water + drained
1-2 Tbsp coconut sugar (or maple syrup)
1 15-ounce can corn, drained (optional)
Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, red pepper and onion. Season with a healthy pinch of salt and pepper and stir. While stirring frequently, sauté it for 3-4 minutes.
Add garlic and jalapeño to a mortar and pestle and crush into a rough paste. You can also alternatively blend it in a small food processor, or finely mince. Add it to the pot with onion and red pepper. Season with another pinch salt and pepper.
Now, add 2/3 of the chilli powder, half of the cumin, diced tomatoes, paprika, tomato paste, and water. Stir and combine. Bring to a low boil over medium or high heat.
Once it starts boiling, add lentils and reduce heat to medium-low or low, so it’s at a gentle simmer. you don’t want it boiling but you want to see the bubbles. Cook for 15 minutes, or until lentils are mostly tender. if the mixture is looking too dry and the lentils aren’t submerged, you may need to add more water as it cooks.
Now, add black beans, kidney beans, 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper, and remaining cumin and chilli powder and stir to combine.
Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Now, slightly reduce the heat to low or medium-low. Add corn, cover, and gently simmer for 20 minutes to blend the flavors together. Stir occasionally.
Serve as is, or garnished with fresh jalapeño, chili cheese fritos, red onion, cilantro, and/or avocado (optional).
You can store the leftovers in the refrigerator up to 4 days, and in the freezer up to 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop, or in the microwave.