Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian chili, topped with sour cream and fresh herbs. Photo by Michelle Bose.

—Submitted by Jenni Luckett.

My original vegetarian chili recipe came from Seventeen magazine when I was in high school and trying to convince my meat-loving family to accept a few meatless foods. They didn’t buy into the vegetarian lifestyle (and I eventually opted for a light-on-the-meat diet), but even my beef-raising grandpa will eat this one. Originally, it took two to three hours at the stove, adding ingredients bit by bit. Over the years, I’ve adapted it significantly for changing needs—including making it a crockpot meal. Now, it’s my go-to in many situations.

3 carrots, sliced
1 onion, diced
1 can kidney beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can black beans
1 large can whole or diced tomatoes
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 bell pepper, yellow or red, diced
2 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp oregano
¼ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp cumin
1 to 2 cups water (depending on preference and number of people to feed)


Mix all ingredients in a crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Garnish with sour cream or avocado. Serve with crusty bread or tortilla chips.

Freezer meal variation: Prep several batches worth of ingredients, minus the water, and store in plastic bags in the freezer. No time to shop? Pull out a bag, dump contents in the crockpot, add water, and cook.

Camp out variation: Prep ingredients only, or pre-cook a batch of chili. Seal it in a Tupperware or jar and head for camp. Heat over a camp stove or open fire.

Make it last variation: Depending on the size of your family, a single or double batch can last for days. To transform the leftovers, strain off some of the liquid and serve as quesadilla filler or as a hearty topping for baked potatoes. 

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