That’s right. This is supposedly the best vegetarian chili in the world. It’s adapted from a popular recipe on and I have to say, it’s mighty tasty. Shout out/apology to my cousin Bill, a chef in Texas, who might take issue with the idea that chili can even be vegetarian let alone mighty tasty.

Alright, for starters, it’s been cold here in New York the past two weeks. After tackling the carrot soup thing I wanted more stick-to-your-ribs fare but I haven’t been buying or cooking much meat. So instead of braised short ribs, beef bourguignon, or polenta with sausage ragù, I went with a chili packed with beans, veggies, spice, and all the warmth with none of the meat.

The original recipe called for an inordinate amount of jalapeños and chopped green chile peppers so I toned these down and my version still had a little kick. You could add a few dashes of tabasco to your bowl if you find it’s lacking heat. The recipe also called for such oddities as ground Boca burgers – I cut these out and increased the veggies. And of course, if possible, start with cooked dried beans instead of cans but don’t worry about it if you buy canned.

Vegetarian Chili
Adapted from
Serves 8

1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp salt
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 green bell peppers, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 (4-oz.) can chopped green chile peppers, drained
3 (28-oz.) cans whole peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp ground black pepper
1 c cooked (or 1 15-oz. can) kidney beans
1 c cooked (or 1 15-oz. can) garbanzo beans
1 c cooked (or 1 15-oz. can) black beans
1 package (15-oz.) frozen whole kernel corn

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, green bell peppers, jalapeño, garlic, and green chile peppers. Cook for another 10 minutes or so until the celery and bell peppers have softened.

Mix the tomatoes into the pot, breaking them up into smaller pieces. Season with chili powder and black pepper. Stir in the kidney beans, garbanzos, and black beans. Bring to a boil and, if there seems to be a lot of liquid, let it boil until some of the liquid evaporates, roughly 10-25 minutes. Then lower the heat and simmer for additional half hour or so. Whether you have a lid on or not depends on if or how much you want liquid to evaporate. Stir in the corn five minutes before turning off the heat.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream, creme fraiche, or shredded cheese, sliced scallions, and maybe some avocado. I also served this with broccoli that had been roasted in the oven on 400 degrees for 25 minutes and tossed with olive oil and salt.