Vegetarian Three Bean Chili
Sometimes you want something savory and cozy, but healthy at the same time. Full of protein and fiber, my three bean vegetarian chili was born when I needed a Meatless Monday dinner on a cold night. I added canned tomatoes and beans from our pantry and odds and ends of vegetables left over in our fridge. When it was finished, we topped it with a squeeze of lime juice and a dollop of Greek yogurt. Add grated cheese or sour cream, diced red onions or scallions and some radish slices if you’d like. It’s just as satisfying as a meaty chili, with less saturated fat and cholesterol.
Freeze and Reinvent Leftovers
Weeknight dinners fall into the “genius” category when they freeze well or can be reinvented for another use. Make a double batch and freeze portions for lunches and dinners down the road. So you don’t defrost more than you need, freeze the soup in single size servings. Small lunch-size containers you can take to work and quart-size servings you can defrost for dinner work well. I freeze in my glass OXO glass containers.
To reinvent this veggie chili for another dinner down the road, use it to stuff baked potatoes or inside an omelette for breakfast for dinner. Throw together a big sheet pan of nachos and dot them with this delicious chili before topping with cheese and jalapeños. Or use the veggie chili as the base for chili pot pie topped with cornbread.
Tricks of the Trade
Last but not least, when you’re making this chunky soup, it needs time to meld. After the soup has simmered for 30 minutes, the best way to bring it together is to use an immersion blender to “hit it” in a few spots. Just use on/off pulses to blend small sections of the chili (I would suggest three or four spots). Don’t over blend and create a purée, you just want to thicken the base and help the soup meld.
As as aside, I want to share a quick story about this chili. I recently went to a checkup and was meeting a new doctor for the first time. As we were chatting in her office, the doctor confessed that she had warmed up my veggie chili for lunch right before we met. She has no idea how much that meant to me! If you’re a subscriber, you’ll recognize this recipe from a recent weekly meal plan post. My goal is to make cooking at home easier and more approachable, and to teach you some cooking basics along the way. When I hear you all are making my recipes and using my meal plans, my heart doubles in size. Thank you so much!
Yield 6-8 servings
Feel free to add other vegetables that need to be used up: diced butternut squash or sweet potato, riced cauliflower, yellow squash, leek or a handful of spinach greens would all work well. For every additional cup of vegetables, add a half cup of stock or water before you simmer the soup.
- 2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 red, yellow or white onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs celery, chopped
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 large can (28 ounces) or 2 small cans (15 ounces each) diced tomatoes with their juices
- 1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup vegetable broth, chicken broth or water
- 1 bay leaf
- Lime juice, to taste
- Optional garnishes and toppings: Cilantro, sliced avocado, tortilla chips, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, grated jack or cheddar cheese, hot sauce.
- In a large Dutch oven, warm the oil over medium heat. Once the oil is preheated, add the onion and sauté. Add a sprinkling of kosher salt. Add the garlic, peppers, zucchini, carrots and celery. Sauté, sprinkling with salt and pepper, while they cook. Add the chili powder and stir until fragrant. Add the drained beans, broth or water, tomatoes and bay leaf.
- Stir and lower the heat to a simmer. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or up to several hours. Stir occasionally and add more stock or water if the chili starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
- When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and stir in the hot sauce and taste for salt. If you have an immersion blender, use it to purée the soup in a couple spots to thicken the base. Serve topped with a squeeze of lime and optional toppings.