Vegetarian Chili

Chili is one of those dishes that can be made a million different ways and is really hard to mess up, unless you try to get too creative with your spice combinations.

If you stick to the basics and control the amount of spice, it’s hard to go wrong.

Through the years I’ve made dozens of different kinds of chili from mild to spicy, with meat and without.

Vegetarian chili has become a personal favorite recently. It’s lighter and healthier than traditional chili with meat but still deeply satisfying.

This is my favorite vegetarian chili of the moment.

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili


It calls for bulgur which gives it a chewy meat-like texture. If you’re not familiar with bulgur, it’s a quick-cooking form of whole wheat that’s been partially cooked, dried and ground and is commonly used in Middle Eastern cooking. (It’s the main ingredient in tabouli.) You can find it in health food stores and most well-stocked grocery stores.


Vegetarian Chili
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Easy, hearty and delicious vegetarian chili made with bulgur. It's my favorite vegetarian chili of the moment.
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 6
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chili power
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup bulgur, preferably coarse
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 (15 ounce) cans beans (kidney, black or pinto or a combination), rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 5 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Put a large soup pot on medium heat and add the oil.
  2. Add the onions and garlic and cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, cayenne, bay leaves and bulgur. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Add the tomatoes, beans, tamari, water, salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring often so the ingredients don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
  5. Before serving, taste and add more salt, pepper and/or cayenne if needed.


Source: Adapted from Vegetarian Classics by Jeanne Lemlin

Links to more great vegetarian chili recipes:

Pierce Street Vegetarian Chili – 101 Cookbooks
Easy Vegetarian Chili – Happy Tummy
Ridiculously Easy Vegetarian Chili – Rachael Ray
Chunky Vegetarian Chili – My Recipes
Cook-Off Winning Veggie Chili – Whole Foods Market

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