My husband often makes fun of me for my love of vegetables. It’s probably a fair bit of lighthearted ribbing, because I am a little crazy when it comes to getting those veggies in every day! When I’m eating well – and for me, that typically means eating mostly plant based – I feel so much better. This Easy Vegetarian Chili is an absolute staple in my winter diet because it is so simple to throw together, freezes well, and it chock full of colorful veggies!
This recipe is a variation on a vegetarian dish that my mom started making for me back in high school. I became a vegetarian in my very early teens and I give my parents a huge amount of credit for being really supportive of my dietary changes. My mom learned to cook a huge number of really great plant based meals, including the original recipe that this chili is based on. I don’t know where she got that recipe all those years ago, but I’ve modified it again and again over the years to fit my taste and busy lifestyle. I love to make a big batch of it over the weekend and enjoy it all week long for lunch or light dinners! It pairs perfectly with some cornbread (this Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread is a favorite) or some whole grain chips.
Why Is This So Easy? Veggie Prep Takes Time, Right?
There is some chopping involved in the prep for this recipe, but outside of that, it comes together very quickly. The base for the chili is an aromatic blend of onion, garlic, and celery. Next up are all of the delicious veggies! I love to use a mix of bell pepper, chopped carrots, fire roasted corn (I love to use the fire roasted corn from Trader Joes) and chunky zucchini. Don’t like zucchini or not a fan of corn? The best part of this chili really is how easily adaptable it is to all palates, or what you have in your refrigerator. My mom used to add mushrooms to hers and it was fantastic, but sadly, my husband is not a fan of mushrooms so I leave them out.
Add In The Flavor
All of those amazing veggies get spiced up with chili powder, cumin, a hint of basil, and some red pepper flakes. This chili does have a little heat to it, but you can definitely dial it down a notch by leaving out the red pepper flakes, or simply using 1/4 teaspoon instead of the recommended 1/2 teaspoon.
The chili gets it’s heft from kidney beans and a pureéd can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes. Throw it all together, let it simmer, and about an hour later it’s ready to go for dinner, parties, or meal prep.
Serve It Up!
I love to top this chili with grated parmesan cheese and some parsley, but it’s also fantastic served up with more traditional fixings like shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and chips! It’s the perfect vegetarian/vegan option for feeding a crowd and can definitely be made a day ahead and heated up on the stove or in a crockpot for busy days. This recipe keeps well in the fridge for 3-5 days. It also freezes for up to two months.
Find the printable recipe for our Easy Vegetarian Chili below and let us know how you customize it for your family!
Easy Vegetarian Chili
A quick and easy vegetarian chili full of texture and flavor! On the table in an hour. Great for meal prep.
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large white onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 ribs celery, diced
- 1 cup chopped fresh bell pepper (any color)
- 1.5 cups chopped carrots
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2.5 cups chopped zucchini (approximately two medium)
- 1 can (15 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes, lightly pureed
- 1 cup water
- 2 cans low sodium dark red kidney beans, liquid included
- 16 ounces frozen corn
In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium high heat.
Add the onion and sauté until just softened, approximately 3-5 minutes.
Stir in the minced garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, just until fragrant.
Add the chopped carrots, bell peppers, and celery and allow to cook 5-7 minutes. They should just be starting to soften.
Add the cumin, chili powder, basil, pepper flakes, and salt, stirring until slightly fragrant (approximately 30 seconds).
To the pot, add the puréed tomatoes, water, and zucchini. Bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and cover, allowing the mixture to simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Add the beans with their liquid and the corn. Cover and simmer an additional 15-20 minutes to allow the flavors to blend and the corn to thaw.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Freezes well.