Vegetarian Chili

There are very few things my two kids agree on and food is the one thing they NEVER agree on. So my daughter prefers to eat vegetarian food and my son does not eat anything that doesn’t have some form of a dead animal in it. She loves any kind of dried beans and he has never put a bean in his mouth (if by any chance his burrito order at Chipotle comes in contact with even a single bean, he refuses to eat it). Yes, I know, maybe I should not have catered/pandered to their preferences but I just could not bear to see any of my kids go hungry and so when they were younger, I used to cook keeping their preferences in mind. Pessimists may say that I spoiled my kids, I look at the brighter side of things and the result of their finicky behavior was that I learned to cook a lot of different kinds of things. This vegetarian chili is my daughter’s favorite so I freeze single servings of it (and other favorites) in Tupperware containers and once or twice a year I drive 650 miles to deliver the cooler packed with frozen food to her (she ‘s in college there).  Of course, my son will not touch this dish because it contains the forbidden element – BEANS!!! I wonder when he will suddenly catch on to the fact that beans can be quite delicious and then regret missing out on them for most of his life!  In any case, it is his loss entirely because this chili is indeed delicious and nutritious!


1.    One medium sized white onion
2.    2 cloves of garlic
3.    4-5 small sweet bell peppers or one large red bell pepper and one Jalapeno pepper
4.    One cup of TVP (textured vegetable protein – available at organic markets or Whole Foods)) or dried soy protein nuggets (available at South Asian Stores)
5.    25-30 green pitted olives
6.    One can of chickpeas
7.    One can of red kidney beans
8.    One can of white beans
9.    One can of black beans
10.    One large jar of store-bought spaghetti sauce
11.    2 tablespoons of olive oil
12.    1 teaspoon chili flakes
13.    ½ McCormick low sodium Taco seasoning
14.    2 fresh corn cobs
15.    ½ teaspoon of dried oregano
16.    2 teaspoons of sugar


1.    Peel and chop the onion, bell peppers, Jalapeno pepper (take the seeds out or it is too hot) and the garlic cloves.
2.    In a large sauce pan, pour the olive oil and start heating it on medium heat.

3.    Place the chopped onion into the pan and cook it till it gets translucent.

4.    Add the garlic pieces, chopped bell pepper pieces and stir. I had half a red onion lying around and I added that in here (see pic) – but you don’t need to do that.
5.    Using a sharp knife cut of the corn kernels from the cob and add them to the pan. Also add the green olives. Cook the corn kernels with the rest of the vegetables for 5-6 minutes (stirring frequently).

6.    While the vegetables are cooking, open all the cans of beans and drain the liquid out of them and wash all the beans under a stream of cold water (to remove any excess salt).

7.    Before mixing the beans, add the Taco seasoning mix to the sautéed vegetables in the pan and stir thoroughly.

8.    Add the beans and the soy protein to the pan and also chili flakes, some salt (sparingly, since the jar of tomato sauce has salt in it already) to the pan and stir again.

9.    After cooking the beans for 2-3 minutes, add the flowing to the pan – a jar of spaghetti sauce, 2 cups of cold water,  sugar, and dried oregano.  Mix all the contents of the pan and cover the pan with a lid and keep it on low heat for 20-25 minutes.

10.    Stir the contents of the pan every 4-5 minutes and if the chili looks too dry, add a little bit more water – otherwise let it continue cooking.
11.    After 25 minutes or so, all the beans and soy protein pieces will absorb the flavors and the chili is ready. Serve it hot with a little bit of olive oil poured over the top and also some grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.


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