Spicy Beef & Lentil Stew

Wedges of a crusty whole wheat loaf are best for absorbing all the juices of this hearty and warming winter stew.

2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each) no-salt-added stewed tomatoes
3 cups water
1/2 pound well-trimmed beef bottom round, diced
8 ounces lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 large sweet potato (12 ounces), peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
1 medium onion, cut into wedges
1 to 2 tablespoons minced fresh red or green chili peppers, to taste
2 teaspoons thyme
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 bay leaves

1. In large saucepan, combine stewed tomatoes, water, beef, lentils, sweet potato, onion, half the minced chili peppers, thyme, salt, black pepper and bay leaves. Cover and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until flavors are blended and lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.
2. With slotted spoon, remove about 1-1/2 cups of stew (but no meat) and puree in a blender or food processor. Return the puree to the stew and stir to combine. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Stir in the remaining minced chili peppers.

Makes 4 servings.
Per serving: 405 calories, 6.1g total fat (2.2g saturated), 34mg cholesterol, 23g dietary fiber, 59g carbohydrate, 29g protein, 359mg sodium.