Hearty Vegetarian Chili

By Sally Cameron on February 05, 2011

Featured 3, Gluten-Free, Grain-Free, Soups, Stews & Chilies, the daniel plan, Travel, Vegan, Vegetarian

Warm spices add a rich Southwestern flavor to this hearty vegetarian chili with vegetables and beans. This chili comes together quickly once the vegetables are prepped. Simmer over low heat to blend the flavors for just 30 minutes and get ready for a great bowl of chili. Don’t let the length of the ingredient list scare you, a lot of it is spices.

hearty vegetarian chili | AFoodCentricLife.com

Hearty Vegetarian Chili Inspiration

We just returned from a long weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in the snowy winter playground of Park City, Utah. Started as a mining town in the 1880′s, it’s now a world-class winter sports destination. Kent was there for a conference and I got to tag along. One day the company let everyone out of the conference to go have some fun in the snow. After a morning of snowshoeing and dog sledding (and of course, playing with the dogs), we had a warming lunch of hearty chili before heading out snowmobiling.

Making Chili

Back home, making a pot of my vegetarian chili reminded me of this fun weekend. Filled with colorful vegetables, aromatic garlic and onions, tender beans, herbs and smoked spices, you won’t miss the meat. One of my clients requests this recipe practically every time I cook for them.

Between tickets to films, discovering a gem of an olive oil shop (Mountain Town Olive Oil), sparkling snow and invigorating mountain air we had a great weekend. I’ll leave out the part where I flipped my snowmobile and ended up on crutches.

A Note on Spices

If you like smoky flavors, you’ll love smoked paprika and smoked pepper. Find then at many grocers, spice shops and online.  If you don’t have smoked spices, make the chili with regular paprika and round black pepper. Another way to add smoky flavor is with crushed urfa chilies and ground chipotle pepper.

Urfa chilies are a purplish-black color with an earthy, smoky flavor. Try urfa chiles in omelets and scrambled eggs or added to cornbread. They are a 3-4 on the chile heat scale so not too hot. If you like your chili hot, increase the chipotle but do so sparingly. Chipotle powder is made from ground, smoked jalapeno peppers so it packs quite a punch. Ground ancho chile is the foundation for the spice blend called chili powder. Its rich in flavor but packs no heat.

Garnish Options

Top the chili with sliced green onions, grated cheese (if you eat dairy), a drizzle of good olive oil, or slices of cool, ripe avocado. Vegetarian chili will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator, always ready for a warming lunch or dinner.

For another terrific vegetarian dinner try my Shepherds pie recipe.

Hearty Vegetarian Chili

This colorful and hearty chili is loaded with vegetables and flavor from warm and smoky spices. With it’s chunky texture you won’t miss the meat. Serve alone or with freshly baked cornbread or muffins. It also works for vegan diners without the cheese garnish. Don't let the length of the ingredient list deter you. A lot of it is spices. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword chili, Vegetarian
Servings 6
Calories 122kcal


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons ground ancho chili pepper
  • 1 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon smoked black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon urfa chile optional
  • 1 tablespoon dried Italian blend herbs
  • 1 pound carrots peeled and chopped small
  • 1 large zucchini about 8 ounces, quartered, seedy center cut out, and diced small
  • 1 medium yellow squash or use yellow zucchini, quartered, seedy center cut out, and diced small
  • 3 14 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes drained and juice reserved
  • 1 15 ounce can organic kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 ounec can organic Cannellini beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Optional garnishes

  • sliced green onions
  • grate cheddar or Jack cheese
  • 1-2 avocados peeled and sliced


  • In a 5-6 quart heavy pot heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring so garlic does not burn. Add all spices and herbs. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the spices release their oils and fragrance, stirring occasionally.
  • Add carrots and cook until they are softened when pierced with the tip of a paring knife. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and beans. Add 3/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer until all vegetables are soft and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and check the chili. If you want it thicker simmer for a few more minutes with the lid off. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish as desired and serve hot.


This chili will keep refrigerated for 4 days. Cool completely before refrigerating. To facilitate cooling, pour into a large, wide stainless steel bowl or large flat casserole dish and stir to help release the heat. You can also place a bowl in an ice bath. The more surface area, the faster (and safer) it will cool.


Calories: 122kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 454mg | Potassium: 652mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 14732IU | Vitamin C: 23mg | Calcium: 74mg | Iron: 2mg
  1. Amber - February 5th, 2011

    Gorgeous photos! It looks like you guys had a grand time.

  2. Renee - February 6th, 2011

    That looks delicious! And so hearty! Have to make that- it’s perfect for our cold winter! Thanks for sharing!

    P.S. Love the snow covered dog. He’s beautiful!

  3. Chef Debbie of Yummy~issimo! - February 6th, 2011

    I love cooking with smoked paprika and smoked ancho powder. This recipe is going into my client rotation this week. Thanks again, Sally, for a fabulous recipe!

  4. Dr. Patrick Mahaney - February 6th, 2011

    Yum! That looks so good. A delicious pot of chili is something I will get working on ASA I am home long enough!
    Great photos! Glad you got some “before” pics during our day of outdoor adventure in Park City!

  5. Paula - February 7th, 2011

    I think I could eat this all day long, because I love such delicious looking things 🙂

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