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Vegetarian Chili

Updated: Jan 4


It’s very cold here in Chicago, most of us are still stuck at home, and it’s dark by 4:30 pm. All I want to do is eat cozy comfort food, but I don’t want any of the excess fat and calories that come with traditional comfort foods like macaroni and cheese, meatballs and spaghetti, and chicken pot pie. Instead I want to fill my plate (or bowl in this case) with warm, satisfying meals that are also good for me like this vegetarian chili. Hearty, healthy, and delicious, it is packed with good-for-you ingredients like vegetables, beans, and spices. Even meat-eaters will enjoy this satisfying chili. Make a big batch to keep you warm for a few days or freeze some for a later date.


This recipe is simple and versatile and comes together easily. Feel free to replace ingredients with others based on your preferences or what you have in stock. Love garlic? Add an extra clove or two. Have some carrots or butternut squash on hand? Chop them up and put them in. Can’t find cannellini beans in the store? Use an extra can of kidney beans. You get the idea.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 green pepper, chopped

  • 1 red pepper, chopped

  • 1 ½ cups mushrooms, chopped

  • 2 cups zucchini, chopped

  • 1 28-ounce can whole, peeled tomatoes, with their juices

  • 3 15-ounce cans of beans: black beans, red kidney beans, cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

  • 2 cups frozen corn, defrosted

  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

  • Garnishes: sliced avocado, cilantro, green onions, tortilla chips, sour cream (if not dairy-free), grated cheese (if not dairy-free)

  1. In a large pot, warm the oil and sauté the onion, garlic, and peppers until tender.

  2. Add the spices and cook until fragrant for about 1 minute.

  3. Add the mushrooms, zucchini, and canned tomatoes. Gently break up the whole tomatoes with a spoon. Stir to combine, bring the mixture to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.

  4. Add the beans and corn. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for about 10 more minutes.

  5. Mix in the vinegar. Taste and adjust spices if needed.

  6. Ladle chili into bowls and serve with garnishes of your choice.

Notes:

  • This chili will keep well in the refrigerator for about 4 days or you can freeze it for longer-term storage.

  • The chili recipe is vegan as written. Adding sour cream or grated cheese will obviously make it not vegan.

  • I prefer to buy whole peeled tomatoes instead of diced. From my experience the quality of tomato is much better in the cans of whole tomatoes. It’s easy to break up the tomatoes into smaller pieces either before you add them to the pot (try cutting them with kitchen shears while they are still in the can) or with the side or back of a spoon after they are added.

  • I don’t add salt to this chili recipe. In my experience the salt in the canned beans and the flavor of the spices is enough that I don’t think additional salt is needed. However, be sure to taste yours and decide for yourself.

  • If you don’t use oil, you can easily cook the vegetables in a little bit of water.


Vegetarian Chili
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