Lip-Smacking Vegetarian Chili So Good that No One Will Miss the Meat.
Vegetarian Chili packed with beans, onions, poblano peppers, red bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes that are simmered in a spicy red wine broth, then topped with chimichurri sauce, fresh Pico de Gallo, fried tortilla strips, and, if you like, some shredded cheese.
This vegetarian chili is delicious all on its own, but the toppings take it to a whole other level.
- Chimichurri Sauce is a simple mixture of cilantro, parsley, vinegar, and oil and blends up in the food processor in just a few minutes. It’s a gorgeous, vibrant green and adds a delicious shock of flavor to everything it touches.
- Pico de Gallo only takes 10-20minutes to make, depending on how quick you are with a knife, and adds even more bright, fresh flavor. The combination of herby Chimichurri, fresh Pico de Gallo, and warm, spicy chili is crazy good.
- Fried tortilla chips. Fried. Tortilla. Chips. I don’t think any further explanation is needed except to say that you might want to plan on frying up some extra because you KNOW you’re going to snack on some while you cook this chili. (Instructions for making them in the recipe.)
Additional, Optional Toppings
There are, of course, any number of other delicious condiments that you could add to your chili topping buffet.
- Grated cheese
- Sour cream
- Jalapeño – pickled or fresh
- Raw onion – there’s already raw onions in the pico, but if you really love them, you might want to add a few more
- Diced green onions
- More chopped fresh tomatoes – in the summer, when tomatoes are soooooo good, can you ever have too many?
- What else??? You decide. Even better – tell me in the comments if there’s something else you love to top your chili with. Don’t be stingy with that kind of information. I might want to try it too! 🙂
Spoon your vegetarian chili over rice. I couldn’t include this in the list above because when eaten this way, the chili becomes a toping for the rice. Sorta.
Most of the time when I make chili for my family, I also make a pot of rice because we really love to spoon warm chili over a bowl full of rice. Then, we go ahead and get our toppings on, adding all the good stuff like pico de gallo, tortilla chips, sour cream, cheese…. you get the picture.
That’s not how I served this vegetarian chili the day I took these pictures, but it IS how I served the leftovers for lunch the next day. Speaking of leftover chili…
What to do with leftover chili?
Leftover vegetarian chili (or any kind of chili) is a wonderful problem to have. Besides heating it up by the bowlful, here’s what to do with it…
- Spoon it over corn tortillas and eggs and call it breakfast. How amazing is a dish that you can serve for dinner one night and breakfast the next????
- Make chili cornbread pie. So good it’s worth making chili just so you can make chili cornbread pie. Here’s what you do: Spoon leftover chili in a square baking dish. Mix together the the cornmeal topping used in this White Chili and Chorizo Tamale Pie. Spread the topping over the chili and bake at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. YUM.
- Tex-Mex Sheppard’s Pie. Spoon leftover chili in a baking dish and top with Cream Cheese Mashed Potatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.
- Make some chili nachos! These Veggie Black Bean Nachos make a regular appearance at our house, especially on Friday nights when we have a lot of odds and ends in the refrigerator that I want to use up. Sometimes we top our nachos beans, and sometimes with Vegetarian Chili. It’s all good.
- Chili Mac and Cheese. Make some mac and cheese and stir leftover chili into it. Seriously SO good.
- Make some chili cheese burritos. Spread some chili down the center of a tortilla, top with cheese, and heat it up in the microwave to warm the chili and melt the cheese.
- Make Loaded Baked Potatoes! Another Friday night meal that makes frequent appearances at my house when I want to use up the week’s leftovers. Chili and whatever other toppings you have around are positively delicious spooned over a warm, perfectly baked potato.
Prep Schedule Notes for Vegetarian Chili
If you’re making this as a part of Weekly Spring Meal Plan #2, you should already have Chimichurri Sauce and Pico de Gallo hanging out in your refrigerator just waiting to top bowls of this soup. You might have also already fried up some tortilla strips and roasted the poblano peppers and onions, putting you way ahead of the dinner game for the night. Right on. Pat yourself on the back, pour a glass of wine, and get cooking. Thanks to your prep work, you’ll be eating a heaping bowl of vegetarian chili in no time.
If not, it’s a good idea to make a couple of the garnishments before you get started on the chili. Make the Chimichurri sauce and Pico de Gallo before you get rolling on the chili. Then, follow the recipe instructions to fry up the tortilla strips while the chili simmers away on the stovetop.
Serve Vegetarian Chili with Jalapeño Cheddar Cornbread or Homemade Tortillas.
If you’re going to make the cornbread, whip up the batter before you start in on the chili. Pop the cornbread in the oven to bake while you get going on the rest. The cornbread will probably be done a few minutes before the chili… and if you dig in before the dinner bell is rung, I think that’s your just reward for being the cook.
Same goes for the tortillas. Make the dough then let it rest while you get started on the chili. BY THE WAY – homemade tortillas are really easy. I just wanted to get that out of the way before I tell you how absolutely positively amazing they are. HOMEMADE TORTILLAS ARE AMAZING. Once you make them you’ll wish you’d started years ago and will probably never purchase prepared tortillas again. Trust me on this.
Perhaps an even better scenario is to recruit a helper to make the cornbread or tortillas while you focus on the chili. Or vice versa.
If you’re making this as a part of Weekly Spring Meal Plan #2, serving your chili with cornbread is especially important because the leftovers form the basis of Cornbread Salad on Day #5, one of the most unusually delicious things I’ve ever made (and eaten).
How much cornbread you make is up to you. One recipe will give you 8 pieces of cornbread. You’ll need 4 pieces for the Cornbread Salad. If you think your gang might eat more than 4 pieced of cornbread for dinner tonight, or if you want a slice or two to heat up with leftover vegetarian chili for lunch tomorrow, you might want to double the recipe.
Useful Equipment for making Vegetarian Chili:
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Weekly Meal Plans that include Vegetarian Chili:
If you give this recipe a try, let me know! Leave a comment, rate it, or take a picture and tag it #alittleandalot on Instagram.Print
Vegetarian Chili packed with beans, onions, poblano peppers, red bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes that are simmered in a spicy red wine broth, then topped with chimichurri sauce, fresh Pico de Gallo, and fried tortilla strips.
- 3 poblano peppers (see note)
- 2 tsp minced fresh garlic
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground oregano
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
- 1 small jalapeño, seeds and stem removed and diced into very small pieces
- 2 red bell peppers, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
- 2 medium sized zucchini: trim the ends, slice in half length-wise, then slice each half into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- One 14-oz can diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
- 3 – 4 cups beans, dried and cooked or canned, any variety or combination of varieties
- About 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (more to taste)
- About 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro (more to taste)
- Optional Garnishments: Chimichurri Sauce, Pico de Gallo, grated cheese, sour cream, and fried tortilla strips (see note below for how to make fried tortilla strips)
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and preheat the broiler in your oven. Lay the poblano peppers on the baking sheet and broil until the skins of the poblano peppers are at least 90% black. Turn the peppers over and broil until the peppers are blackened on the other side. Remove from the oven and place in a bowl to cool. Once cool enough to handle, peel the blackened skin from the peppers, removing the stems and the seeds. Dice the peppers and set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, sugar, salt, pepper, and tomato paste. Set aside.
- Heat the oil in a large sauce pan or dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onions and jalapeño, and cook, stirring frequently, until the onions are soft and translucent. Add the chopped red pepper and sliced zucchini to the pan and cook 1 minute longer. Stir in the garlic-spice-tomato paste mixture and cook, stirring frequently, for 3-4 minutes.
- Pour in the wine, and cook, stirring frequently, until much of the liquid has evaporated – about 5 minutes.
- Pour in the broth, Worcestershire sauce, and tomatoes. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn the heat down to medium low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes, stirring every now and then. (While the chili cooks, make fried tortilla strips – directions are in the notes below.)
- Stir in the beans and cook a minute or two longer to heat through. Add the lime juice and cilantro. Taste, and add more lime, cilantro, or salt if you like.
- Serve with any or all optional garnishments: Chimichurri Sauce, Pico de Gallo, grated cheese, and fried tortilla strips (see note below for how to make fried tortilla strips)
- You can substitute an 8 ounce can of chopped green chilies for the poblano peppers if you prefer.
- If you want to cook a batch of dried beans to use in this chili (as opposed to canned), follow the instructions in this recipe for Slow Cooker Beans.
How to make fried tortilla strips:
- Line a baking sheet with paper towels and set near the stove along with a small dish of salt.
- Pour enough vegetable oil into a large skillet to come up the sides of the pan about 1-inch, and place over hight heat. Cut corn tortillas in into strips about 1/2 inch wide. Add a small piece of corn tortilla into the hot oil to see if it’s hot enough; if it immediately begins to sizzle, with bubbles of oil forming all around it, the oil is hot enough. If you have a deep fry thermometer, which can be super helpful, heat the oil to 350 degrees.
- Fry the tortilla strips in the hot oil in a couple of batches, being careful to not over crowd the pan. When the strips are a deep golden brown, carefully remove them from the hot oil with tongs and immediately sprinkle with some salt.