Vegetarian Chili – quick and easy!

A thank you to Emeril Lagasse for this one. I’ve never watched TV all that much, but my impression is that, beyond Julia, he is one of the first to have realized that a cooking show can be entertainment and thus helped get the whole Food Network thing going.  Or, maybe I am wrong – but he does have some good recipes.

Anyway – I needed a vegetarian chili recipe to test for our church auction.  I didn’t include the words “quick” and “easy” in my search terms, but I might as well had.  Here is what I used as the basis: (My adjustments follow)

Vegetarian Chili


  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup chopped red bell peppers
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 to 3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced, depending upon taste
  • 1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (about 3 ears)
  • 1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms (about 5 large), stemmed, wiped clean and cubed
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespooon ground cumin
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cups cooked black beans, or canned beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup vegetable stock, or water
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • Cooked brown rice, accompaniment
  • Sour cream or strained plain yogurt, garnish
  • Diced avocado, garnish
  • Essence, recipe follows, garnish
  • Chopped green onions, garnish


In a large, heavy pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.


For the seranno peppers, I used what the tags says are “salsa chili” peppers that we have, still producing fruits in November after having brought them in before the first frost last month!

You’ll see them in this picture:

Veg chilie ingedients
The fresh veggies for the chili

I also used only 1 Tbsp chili powder (for those around Wakefield, the dark kind from Farmland) and two teaspoons of the cumin powder.  BUT, I used a trick that I learned from Lorna Sass and toasted a tablespoon of cumin seeds in the oil for about a minute before adding the first ingredients at the beginning of the process.  I also added a heaping  tablespoon of  cocoa powder when the other powered spices were added.

I made two batches.  One with one 15 oz can of black beans and one 15 oz can of red beans (like pinto) and the other with same sized cans – one each pinto and garbanzo.  I think I like the second combination better, but that is a matter of taste.  I used three chili peppers in the first batch but only two in the second.  I like my chili pretty spicy, but these batches are for the public so I didn’t want to blow anyone away!  And, frankly, this chili is so flavorful, it doesn’t need to blow your socks off.

I will probably add some dried oregano to the final version, also.

I’ll end with pictures of the chili cooking process – great colors!

Toasting the seeds - the scent is fabulous!
First batch of veggies: onion, red bell pepper, garlic, and chilis
more veggies
More veggies - this is after the liquid has sweated out
final spices added and ready to simmer and thicken!

Anyway – that’s it.  I still have three or four more recipes from the past month to post… One is for a cauliflower soup to die for!  Soon, soon….