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I remember when I first met my fireman when we were both in college, I was kind of shocked at how much he ate.  When we had just became friends, we had a barter deal going on where he made me a few planter boxes for my apartment and I made him a big pan of lasagna.  It was one of those foil 9×13 pans that was taller than the regular pyrex casserole dishes, so thought that the lasagna would be something that he could have for dinner for a few nights or share it with all his roommates.

As the story goes, he gave two small pieces to friends who happened to be there and then just sat down with a fork and ate the rest of the pan of lasagna in one sitting.  It was when I found this out that I realized I would have to change the way I cooked if I wanted to feed this boy on any sort of regular basis.  From that point on, I started to learn how to cook a lot of beans.  Vegetarian chili was one of the first dishes that I learned how to make, and in the past few years I think that I’ve made it into something special.

This chili has a nice meaty texture and is quite filling, especially if you serve it with something starchy like bread or baked potatoes.  Without the cheese, it’s a vegan dish.  Also, if you happen to be a meat chili type of person, the ‘hidden vegetables’ are a good thing to consider adding to your regular chili recipe, especially if you have picky vegetable-haters in your life.


Vegetarian Chili

Serves 4-6 – cost approx $1.03 per serving


  • 2 cups/1 lb dry beans, soaked overnight ($.99)
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/2 onion ($.75, for mirepoix)
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 head garlic ($.33)
  • 1/2 bell pepper, small dice ($.25)
  • 4 oz mushrooms (1/2 package), small dice ($1)
  • 2 Tbs minced jalapenos (optional)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1 Tbs dry oregano
  • 1 Tbs garlic salt
  • Chipotle peppers in adobo, to taste  – I used about 3 and the chili was pleasantly spicy ($.32)
  • 2 Tbs tomato paste ($.25)
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • grated cheese, optional topping ($1)

Soak the beans overnight and then rinse them and boil them until they’re fully cooked 1-2 hours depending on the type of beans you choose.  Drain the beans.

I used pinto beans, black beans and red beans.

I used pinto beans, black beans and red beans.

Dig out your food processor and puree the garlic, onion, carrot and celery together.  You may have to scrape down the bowl to get everything all homogenous.

Start the chili by heating the olive oil in a large pot.  Saute the bell pepper, jalapeno and mushrooms for 5 minutes or so.  Add in the pureed vegetables and cook for another 5 minutes.    Add in the chipotle peppers and tomato paste and mix in thoroughly, brown the tomato paste and peppers by cooking another 5 minutes or so.  Then stir in the flour and dry herbs and spices, cook 1-2 minutes.  It’s starting to look ‘meaty’, no?

DSCN4574Deglaze the pan with the soy sauce and then add in the vegetable stock and cooked beans.  Add in the bay leaf and simmer for 30 minutes or so.  Taste it and adjust the seasonings.