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This easy Very Veggie Chili is deliciously seasoned and loaded with protein and fiber. You won’t miss the meat in this hearty, soul warming chili!
I’ve got a houseful of meat lovers who also have some pretty strong opinions on their chili. I blew them all away with this vegetarian chili. I honestly don’t think they would have even noticed that it was meatless if I hadn’t mentioned it before they took their first bite.
I’m trying to incorporate more meatless meals into my weekly menus and this low calorie Very Veggie Chili will be on regular rotation. It’s a great family-friendly choice with familiar, comforting flavors that are always well received in this house.
Very Veggie Chili Ingredients
- Three kinds of beans including kidney, pinto and garbanzo beans (chickpeas) bulk up this chili with plenty of fiber and protein. This triple boost of beans will help you feel full and aid in digestion.
- I went with the veggies I love for this tasty chili including zucchini, carrot, corn, and red bell pepper but see my notes below for some variations.
- A blend of dried spices is the key behind the amazing depth of flavor. The seasonings include chili powder, smoked paprika, oregano, cumin, and freshly ground black pepper. I grew up cooking with dried bay leaves and love to add them to soups, stews, and chilis. They add an herby boost and that little somethin’ somethin’. Crushed red pepper adds as much or as little heat as you’d like. It is my favorite way to add heat to recipes because it is easy to control the level of spiciness.
- Fresh lime juice, added at the end of the cooking time, brightens up the flavors of the tomato based sauce. Citrus juice is a wonderful flavor enhancer that helps reduce the need to add any extra salt.
How to Make Veggie Chili
- Cook the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and jalapeno in olive oil over medium heat until tender. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Cook, stirring to toast the spices, about 1 minute.
- Add the broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, all the beans.
- Toss in the bay leaf. Stir to combine then increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove and discard the bay leaf and stir in the frozen corn and zucchini. Increase the heat to bring the chili to a boil then reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the zucchini is fork-tender and chili is thickened. Squeeze the juice from the lime into the chili and remove from the heat. Allow chili to sit off the heat for 5 to 10 minutes before serving (it will continue to thicken a bit as it rests).
- Swap out some of the beans and use what you love or whatever you have in your pantry. Great Northern and black beans are great choices.
- The same goes for the veggies. Go through your vegetable bins and make use of any extra veggies you’ve got on hand. Celery, small cubes of sweet potato, and mushrooms are delicious additions to Veggie Chili. Just add them at the beginning of the recipe with the other vegetables.
- Add a little oomph by replacing some or all of the vegetable broth with beer. A dark Mexican beer would be my first choice but a stout or ale would be great too. Keep in mind that most common types of beer contain gluten so stick with the vegetable broth if you want a gluten free Veggie Chili.
Veggie Chili Toppings
Anything and everything you love to pile on tacos is a perfect choice to compliment the Mexican flavors in this Veggie Chili.
- light sour cream
- shredded cheese (cheddar, jack, cotija)
- sliced avocado
- diced tomatoes
- hot sauce or salsa
- crushed tortilla chips
Vegan and Gluten Free Chili
If you are selective with your toppings and omit anything with dairy (sour cream and cheese are the usual culprits) this is both a gluten free and vegan chili. As always, check all labels carefully to be sure there is no hidden gluten in any of your ingredients.
More Easy Weeknight Dinners
- Instant Pot Navy Bean Soup
- Broccoli Cheese Stuffed Shells
- Instant Pot Ramen
- Make Ahead Manicotti
- Check out our entire collection of Quick and Easy recipes!
Very Veggie Chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 carrot peeled and diced
- 1 red bell pepper seeded and diced
- 1 jalapeno seeded and diced
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 14.5 ounces canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 8 ounces canned tomato sauce
- 16 ounces canned kidney beans rinsed and drained well
- 16 ounces canned pinto beans rinsed and drained well
- 16 ounces canned garbanzo beans rinsed and drained well
- 1 bay leaf
- 1½ cups frozen corn
- 1 medium zucchini chopped
- 1 lime
- cilantro, avocado, tortilla chips, sour cream, crumbled cotija cheese, shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.
- Add the olive oil to a Dutch oven and place over MEDIUM heat. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper, and jalapeno and cook, stirring for several minutes until tender. Reduce the heat to LOW and add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Cook, stirring to toast the spices, about 1 minute. Add the broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, all the beans, and the bay leaf. Stir to combine then increase the heat to MEDIUM-HIGH and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to LOW, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove and discard the bay leaf and stir in the frozen corn and zucchini. Increase the heat to MEDIUM-HIGH and bring the chili to a boil then reduce heat to LOW and simmer, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the zucchini is fork-tender and chili is thickened. Squeeze the juice from the lime into the chili and remove from the heat. Allow chili to sit off the heat for 5 to 10 minutes before serving (it will continue to thicken a bit as it rests).
- Serve the chili with the optional toppings of your choice.
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