4 Vegetarian Chili Recipes to Eat More Veggies as Winter Ends 

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Vegetarian chili recipes
Author Name: Lucas Cook
Date: Sunday March 10, 2024

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As much as you cling to the promise of spring, unexpected cold snaps still occur in much of the nation. The first harvest may still be weeks away, but the right vegetarian chili recipes make short work of what remains in your cold storage or freezer. 

Chili is the perfect food for seasonal transitions, marrying cozy warmth with the fiery flavors of a barbecue. Best of all, it’s easy to make it for the meat-free crowd and the ideal way to use up the last random bits of various veggies that might linger in your freezer from earlier food preps. What should you do with those scraps? Mix up one of these four vegetarian chili recipes to get more veggies in your diet as winter nears its end. 

What Makes Chili Perfect for Upping Your Late-Winter Veggie Intake

Chili is a master of disguise. You can tuck a bit of nearly any bland-tasting veggies into the mix to increase your nutrient intake without adding more fat or tons of calories. The blend of various flavors masks any unusual ingredients, like that touch of moringa powder you included for antioxidants and energy. It also hides the slightly bruised and wilted veggies you might find hiding in the back of your freezer or pantry as winter nears its end. 

This dish is also fabulous freezer food. Store it in compostable freezer bags for easy, healthy post-workday meals or defrost a single serving to top a baked potato or hot dog. The same giant batch that delights your family at dinner tonight can double as a contribution to your neighborhood Memorial Day cookout.

Ready to use up those veggies and transform them into deliciousness? Try one of these four vegetarian chili recipes tonight. 

1. Super Mixed Bean Chili 

  • 1 pound mixed pinto, kidney, white and black beans 
  • 29 ounces diced tomatoes
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 small onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves 
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt 

The most time-intensive aspect of this recipe is soaking the beans overnight to break down the oligosaccharides that produce gas, bloating and discomfort. While you can skip this step if you aren’t sensitive, be aware that anyone else who eats the dish might be. 

Heat the oil in a stock pot. Add onion and saute it until translucent, then add garlic and continue cooking for one minute. Toss in the beans, vegetable broth, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, paste and Worcestershire sauce, stirring well and adding water if the liquid doesn’t cover all the beans. Add the remaining ingredients, mix well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least an hour before serving. 

2. Zucchini and Squash Chili 

  • 4 cups cubed zucchini
  • 2 cups cubed yellow squash 
  • 1 medium chopped yellow onion 
  • 1 diced green bell pepper 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can diced green chilis
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1 can vegetable broth or 12 ounces spicy V8 vegetable juice
  • 1 packet vegetarian taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon dried coriander
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Maybe you typically spiralize zucchini and squash, but you can also cube it and use it for a veggie-rich chili variation. This twist uses yellow squash as a swap for ground beef and replaces beef broth with a spicy veggie version. Skip the sour cream and cheddar for cashew cheese and spring onions to make this recipe vegan. 

Add the oil to a large stock pot and cook zucchini and squash until slightly tender, no longer than five minutes. Remove the veggies, placing them aside and saute the onion and pepper in the same pot. Add the remaining ingredients besides the zucchini and squash and simmer for ten minutes. Return the zucchini and squash to the pot and cook for 15 additional minutes to meld the flavors, serving immediately. 

Unlike some other chili dishes, this one doesn’t reheat well from frozen. However, it’s quick and simple to make in less than 15 minutes — washing and chopping the veggies takes the most time and work. 

3. Cauliflower and Hot Pepper Chili

  • 5 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 red bell pepper 
  • 1 yellow bell pepper
  • 2 serrano peppers
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 poblano pepper
  • 1 habanero pepper (optional) 
  • 1 can drained black beans 
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato paste 
  • 1 can tomato sauce 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Dash of cumin
  • Dash of chili powder
  • Dash of oregano

This variation on the recipe ramps the pepper content up considerably. Bell peppers are richer in vitamin C than oranges, and their spicy cousins contain capsaicin, an ingredient you might recognize from OTC arthritis remedies. That’s because the hot stuff cools down systemic inflammation in the body. The cauliflower in this recipe similarly balances the heat for your tongue, especially if you fire up this version with a habanero. 

In a large stock pot, saute the onion in oil until it becomes translucent. Add the garlic for an additional minute before adding the remaining ingredients. Stir well and bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer for at least 30 to 40 minutes or until the cauliflower is sufficiently tender. 

4. Sweet Potato Chili

  • 1 ½ cup cubed sweet potatoes
  • 1 can drained black beans
  • 1 can drained white or pinto beans 
  • 2 cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • ½ cup corn kernels
  • 2 dried guajillo chilies
  • 1 medium chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • A squeeze of lime 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

Hello, antioxidants. This recipe’s bright blend of nearly every rainbow color ensures you get plenty of these substances that whisk free radicals from your body while providing balanced nutrition. 

Saute the onion and garlic in oil until translucent. Add the tomatoes, chili powder, sliced chilies and vinegar. Stir. Add the cubed sweet potatoes and beans. Simmer on low heat until tender, then add the corn and kale, simmering for ten additional minutes. Add a squeeze of lime, salt and pepper and serve. 

Exciting Ways to Spice Up Vegetarian Chili Even More 

How should you top your vegetarian chili? If you’re an ovo-lacto vegetarian, meaning you eat cheese and eggs, then a touch of queso is an obvious match. Sour cream, chives, slices of dried chilies and red pepper flakes also create that restaurant-plated look while adding creaminess or fire to your meal. 

However, you can find vegan cheese shreds and even vegan sour cream, although you might find plain, unflavored cashew milk yogurt even better in taste. You can also stick with a simple sprinkle of chives and jalapeno rounds to keep everything veggie and contrast the green against the red for a pretty look. 

Vegetarian Chili Recipes 

Winter’s end is traditionally the time to use up whatever veggies you have left in the larder before the spring harvests begin. These vegetarian chili recipes ensure you get freshness in your diet any time of year. 

Vegetarian chili transforms slightly wilted veggies into deliciousness, making it perfect for using up leftovers any time of the year. Adding your own unique twists will help you eat more sustainably and nutritiously while enjoying a delicious, hearty and warming feast. 

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