vegetable chili recipe

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vegetable chili (vegan) | pamela salzman

We are a football-watching family.  On any given Sunday during the season, we are hunkered down for a good part of the day at home with the likely chance of random family and friends dropping by.  I like to prepare hearty, comfort food that can be left on the stove for everyone to help themselves whenever hunger strikes.

I know many people think that it “never rains in Southern California,” but I assure you that is a myth.  I’m not complaining, because we need the rain, but this has been a particularly rainy season.  Today is a chilly and damp Sunday and the rain started early.  Perfect weather for vegetable chili!

vegetable chili (vegan) | pamela salzman


This recipe is completely vegan and no one has ever asked me, “where’s the beef?”  This is a flavorful stew with lots of warming spices (but not spicy) to fuel your internal fire and keep you feeling toasty.  I like to cook big batches of beans from scratch and freeze them for later use, but you can certainly use canned here.  My favorite brand is Eden, one of the only companies NOT to use BPA in its cans.  Hooray!  They also cook their beans like I do, with kombu, a sea vegetable which adds extra minerals and alkalinity to the beans.  You can use all the same kind of bean or mix and match.  My favorites to use here are kidney, pinto and black beans all of which are top of the class in antioxidants.

vegetable chili (vegan) | pamela salzman


To make a complete protein, serve this over cooked brown rice, millet or quinoa.  Lastly, I set out bowls of chopped avocado, lime wedges, and a terrific raw cheddar cheese I found at the farmer’s market and brought home and shredded.  If the kids will eat more of this with a few tortilla chips dunked in, I say let them go for it.

vegetable chili (vegan) | pamela salzmanvegetable chili (vegan) | pamela salzman




5.0 from 1 reviews
vegetable chili recipe
Serves: 6
  • 2 Tablespoons unrefined extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 sweet bell pepper (red, orange or yellow), seeded and chopped
  • ½ bunch Swiss chard, stems diced and leaves cut into 1-inch pieces, about 5 cups
  • ½ jalapeno, chili, seeded (leave the seeds in to make it hotter) and minced
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 jar or box of whole plum tomatoes, crushed and keep the juice or 2 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 cups or 3 cans (15 ounces each) cooked beans (such as red kidney, pinto or black), drained and rinsed
  • 2½ cups water or vegetable stock
  • 2-3 teaspoons sea salt (I use 3 teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1½ Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus extra for garnish (optional)
  • Garnishes: cubed avocado, lime wedges
  1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, bell pepper, chard stems, jalapeno and garlic, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Add oregano, cumin and chili powder and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 mintues.
  2. Addtomatoes with the juice, bay leaf, beans, water, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Discard the bay leaf. Add the Swiss chard leaves and cook, uncovered, until mixture has thickened slightly, about 20 minutes. Stir in chopped cilantro. Serve with cooked brown rice, millet or quinoa.


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  1. Monica Lovell says

    I just wanted to thank you for the great suggestion of the baked potatoes. I actually made this recipe over a week ago and froze the leftovers. I needed a super quick dinner last night so I stuck the potatoes in the crock pot at noon and when we got home at 5:00, they were done. I heated the chili up and made a salad and it was all delicious! I made myself a sweet potato (everyone else had russet) and the chili on it was great. My kids ate their chili separate from the potato but that was fine as long as they got some protein. I did add a little cheese too. :-)

    • Pamela says

      You sound like me — I’ll make everyone else a baked potato and I’ll go for the sweet potato. So good with the chili! One year I did a baked potato bar and a big pot of chili for the Super Bowl. Huge hit!

  2. Caren Greenhouse says

    This was such a hit! My picky husband and two gluten-free (one lactose intolerant) daughters were thrilled tonight. I’ve been following your blog for a while but I was a little intimidated. I have decided that this year I really want to shift myself and my family toward a more plant based diet. This recipe as well as last Monday’s lentil & brown rice soup were so well received! I am definitely encouraged. I also plan on making a few other days of your weekly plan. Great recipes and relatively easy execution. Thanks so much!!

    • Pamela says

      Caren, this is great. I am so thrilled for you. And what a lucky family you have! Everything on my blog is totally doable, and I am excited to hear what you make next :).

    • Pamela says

      Sure! Brown it first, remove from pot, sauté veggies, add back meat with seasonings, etc. Cook the same. I think you can add in half pound without changing the recipe. If you want to use more meat, you would probably need to take out some of the beans.

  3. Lillian says

    I made this chili recipe to take to our Thanksgiving potluck since my husband is vegan and I try not to eat any meat. It’s delicious, tasty, and hearty!! Thank you for all the wonderful meal options!! I also doubled the recipe and have plenty leftover!

  4. Kadie says

    I made this in the slow cooker but did not read about cutting the water in half and it was way too runny. It was still great, I just had to drain it. Why do you need less water in a slow cooker?

    • Pamela says

      That’s a good rule of thumb when you want to convert a recipe for the slow cooker. Slow cookers don’t allow any evaporation of liquid when you cook, as opposed to a pot which does allow steam to escape whether you realize it or not. Glad the chili was still salvageable!

  5. Lisa Messner says

    Another wonderful recipe! We loved it. I used a can of diced tomatoes because that is all I had. May have needed more liquid? I would use 2 t. salt. I also tried the quinoa cornbread for the first time tonight, which was a perfect pairing with this chili.

    • Pamela says

      Just made this for dinner tonight, how funny! I wonder if your tomatoes had salt added? Love this with the quinoa cornbread! Thanks, Lisa!

  6. Anne says

    Searching your website for some new recipes (love the slow cooker chicken tacos!). Is the Jalapeño in this veggie chili too hot for young kids? Does this freeze well? Husband doesn’t like sweet potatoes so I have stayed away from your slow cooker version but do you have a slow cooker veggie chili recipe? Lots of questions but love your site!

    • Pamela says

      I love questions! The veggie chili is not too hot for young kids. I would say it’s a 3 or 4 out of 10 on the heat scale, 10 being the hottest. It freezes well. I haven’t tried this in the slow cooker, but I am certain you could do it. I would cut the liquid in half and add the chopped Swiss chard leaves 20 minutes before serving. I always prefer the flavor of onions when they are sauteed beforehand, but if you were short on time (who isn’t?), just toss everything into the slow cooker and press start. :)

  7. Tiffany Friedman says

    I love this recipe!!! I made it earlier in the week and decided it was so yummy I simply had to make it again.

    • Pamela says

      Nice! It also taste great after a few days in the fridge. I’m making it Sunday for football-watching. Go Giants!

  8. Lynette says

    Both my kids loved it. I told them it was a Pamela recipe. My six year old said “I don’t know who Pamela is but she sure is a good cooker. Her husband and kids are really lucky.”

  9. Steven says

    It’s the bomb, I recommend any chili-crazed cook try it. I’m a sucker for good chili and order it all over the country whenever I get a chance collecting recipes and favorite spots. I decided to try this one evening and was missing 3 ingredients (2 vegetables and 1 spice) – and BAMMM, it was awesome! Since then, I’ve made it 5 times, the proper way, and can’t wait to make it a 6th time.

  10. says

    This chili is now my favorite comfort food. It was delicious and I didn’t even miss the meat! It is also a great way to get more veggies! Excellent!!!

  11. Maria says

    Although my husband and I are not chili fans, I decided to
    try this one because we love veggies. It was outstanding!
    The flavors really “pop,” and the toppings are great

  12. Luisa says

    I made this recipe while we were getting 20 inches of snow here in NY! It couldn’t have been more perfect to warm us up. The next day I had it for lunch and it was even more delicious. The swiss chard is a wonderfully mild complement to the spiciness of the chili. The avocado is a great topping. This dish is definitely a wintertime staple for us!

  13. Kadie Chambers says

    This is my go to meal when the kids have a crazy schedule. I prepare all the ingredients in the morning when they go to school and cook after pick up. It sits on the stove with fixings in the fridge and everyone serves themselves between activities and me carpooling. Brilliant and delicious.

  14. lori says

    Fantastic chili! The entire family (including three young kids) devoured this … and my three year old just asked to have it again for breakfast!

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