Classic Veggie Chili with Lots of Variations

Classic veggie chili and cornbread

This chili recipe isn’t revolutionary, but a plant-based repertoire wouldn’t be complete without it. For a classic combo, serve with Corn Kernel Cornbread and a colorful salad, combining mixed greens, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, olives, and pumpkin or sunflower seeds. Recipe from Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More Than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes by Nava Atlas. ©2014, published by HarperOne, reprinted by permission. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky.

Classic Veggie Chili with Lots of Variations
Recipe type: Chili
Cuisine: Vegan / Healthy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 to 8
This chili recipe isn’t revolutionary, but a plant-based repertoire wouldn’t be complete without it.
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil or 3 tablespoons vegetable broth or water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium or large bell pepper (any color), finely diced
  • 4 to 5 cups cooked or two 28-ounce cans (drained and rinsed) beans of your choice (see Variations)
  • 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 11/2 to 2 cups cooked fresh or thawed frozen corn kernels
  • 1 to 2 fresh hot chili peppers (see Variations), seeded and minced, or one 4- to 8-ounce can chopped mild green chilies
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality chili powder, or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (optional; highly recommended)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt to taste
Optional toppings (any or all)
  • Lightly cooked or raw chopped onions or scallions
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Grated nondairy Cheddar-style or pepper Jack–style cheese
  • Diced ripe fresh tomatoes
  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat until the onion is golden.
  2. Add remaining ingredients except salt along with ½ cup water. Simmer gently, covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season gently with salt and adjust the other seasonings.
  3. If time allows, let stand for an hour or so off the heat, then heat through as needed before serving. The chili should be very dense, but if you’d like it a bit more on the soupy side, add another ½ to 1 cup water and continue to heat through. Ladle into bowls and pass around the garnishes.


  • Use pink, pinto, red, or black beans, varying your choices each time you make this. Using two different beans in the same pot adds to the visual appeal.
  • If using fresh chilies, for a spicier effect, use jalapeño or serrano peppers or 1 or 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (the latter come in cans or jars and are supremely incendiary). For a milder effect, use poblanos.
  • For added texture, stir in a cup or so of cooked grain—quinoa, whole-grain couscous, or bulgur all work well. Adjust the liquid as needed.
  • Winter squash or sweet potatoes added to chili are not only delicious but also add to its visual appeal. Toward the end of cooking time, add 2 cups or so cooked diced sweet potatoes or winter squash. Butternut or sugar pumpkins are particularly good.

Nutrition information
Per serving: Calories: 265; Total fat: 4g; Protein: 15g; Carbohydrates: 47g; Fiber: 13g; Sodium: 25mg

Classic veggie chili and cornbread recipe

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