Quick and Easy Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili Recipe

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“Meatless Tuesday” might not have the same ring to it as “Meatless Monday,” but don’t let that deter you from planning a vegetarian protein-packed meal on any day of the week you choose! Perfect for a family-friendly dinner or a casual gathering of friends, this veggie chili is nutritious, satisfying, and easy to make. In just 45 minutes, you’ll have a large pot of steaming, fragrant chili that works for any occasion.

Great-Tasting and Good for You

Most of the ingredients in this chili are pantry staples, and the recipe can easily be adapted to use what you have on hand. As hearty as this dish is, it’ll please everyone from the carnivorous comfort foodie to the health-conscious veggie lover. Here are just a few of the reasons why this vegetarian chili just as healthful as it is tasty.

Tomatoes are an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K, a very good source of potassium, and a rich source of lycopene, an antioxidant that protects cells from oxidative damage. Strong evidence suggests that dietary lycopene may protect against certain cancers and heart disease. Good to know: We absorb more lycopene from canned tomatoes than raw tomatoes, thanks to the processing that helps break down their tough cell walls.

Even though quinoa is often treated like a grain in recipes, it’s actually a seed, which explains why it’s so high in protein. In fact, quinoa contains all of the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. It also adds a pleasant texture to the chili.

Beans are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, folate, and low-fat protein in a relatively low-calorie package. They also help stabilize blood sugar. Be sure to rinse canned beans well to get rid of the excess sodium.

Jalapeños add a kick to this vegetarian chili and are a great source of antioxidant beta-carotene and vitamin C. They also contain iron, magnesium, and niacin. To avoid feeling the burn when handling jalapeños, remove the spine and seeds with a spoon, and try not to breathe in when you chop them. Don’t touch your face until you’ve washed your hands and cutting board thoroughly.

Mix It Up: Vegetarian Chili Your Way

Watching your sodium? Or looking to punch up the spice level? This recipe is easy to tweak to suit a number of different preferences. Try these simple variations:

  • Substitute whole-grain couscous or bulgur for the quinoa.
  • Try other types of canned beans, such as cannellini or pinto.
  • Use V8 (spicy or regular) in place of the tomato juice or substitute low-sodium tomato juice.
  • For additional heat, use another jalapeño, and/or include the seeds.
  • Swap a 4-ounce can of diced chiles in place of the jalepeno.
  • Add up to 1 cup of frozen corn.

Vegetarian Chili

Serves 4


2 cups tomato juice, divided
1 cup quinoa, uncooked
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 large carrots cut in ¼ inch rounds
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (15 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes in puree
1/2 cup red wine
1 small jalapeño pepper, diced, seeds removed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
Optional garnishes: chopped green onion, diced avocado, shredded cheese


1. Bring 1 cup of the tomato juice to a boil, pour over the quinoa, and let stand for 15 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is soft but not brown, about 4 minutes. Add the celery, bell pepper, carrots, and jalapeño pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
3. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt. Stir well to combine with the vegetables and cook 1 minute. Add the black beans, kidney beans, crushed tomatoes, remaining cup of tomato juice, red wine, and the quinoa.
4. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

Serve the chili with warm whole-grain tortillas and garnish it with shredded cheese, chopped green onion, and/or diced avocado. Leftover chili works well for lunch; pack in a thermos or reheat. Note: If you make this dish ahead of time or pack leftovers, add a splash of tomato juice to thin the chili.

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