Vegetarian Chili Recipe

Looking for a vegetarian chili recipe? You’re in good company. Chili is one of the oldest recipes on the books and it’s been perfected over time. Travelers searching to find gold during expeditions to the western United States would bring with them a dried brick of chili. Pop it in a pot of boiling water and they had an instant meal.

People all over like chili, making it the golden nugget of soup recipes. Because chili is so widely adored though, there are tons of different ways to prepare it. In other words there is no gold standard for how chili should taste. Okay, sorry, enough with the gold puns. If you mix chili peppers, beans, tomatoes and spices you’ll be heading in the right direction.

Chili is essentially a tomato based stew so you can imagine how many different variations there are. I’ll share with you my standard vegetarian chili recipe as well as two varieties to spice things up in a different direction.

My chili recipe tends to pack in more veggies than most, so if you want the simplest version, feel free to leave them out. I’ve just found that soups are one of the best ways to add in more servings of vegetables than you would otherwise get in a day.


  • 1 white onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 - 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 6 cups of beans (I used 2 cups of each: black, pinto and kidney, drain and rinse if using canned)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pepper sauce (like Cholula, Tabasco or Crystal) or to taste
  • Optional vegetables: 1 finely chopped jalapeno, 2 cups diced mushrooms, 2 cups chopped spinach, 2 cups corn kernels
  • Note: you may need to add water during the cooking process


  1. Heat large soup pot for 2 minutes then add olive oil, diced onion, celery and any other whole vegetable you are using like jalapeno, corn, spinach or mushrooms
  2. When vegetables have softened and onions are translucent add beans, both cans of tomatoes including their juice, vegetable broth and bring to boil
  3. Reduce to a simmer, stir in spices, garlic and pepper sauce
  4. Let sit for at least 20 minutes for flavors to mix, put lid on so the liquid doesn’t evaporate too much. Add water if necessary.

Sultry Vegetarian Chili

Leave out the cumin and the extra vegetables from the recipe above and replace with 2 tablespoons of whiskey or red wine, 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder and a ½ tablespoon of oregano.

Hearty Whole Grain Vegetarian Chili Recip

Starting with standard recipe above, leave out the additional vegetables but add up to 1 cup of quinoa. Put in pot before you bring to a boil and it will be tender by the time the chili is done. (You may need more vegetable broth or water with this version as the grain will soak up some of the liquid.)

Pair any of these vegetarian chili recipes with corn bread and top with cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado or anything your heart desires. Who could imagine a more filling and wholesome meal? If it was good enough for American expeditioners on a cold night, it’s good enough for me!

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