Holiday Recipe Series: Vegetable Chili

I figured I’d launch my holiday recipe series with my favorite vegetable chili recipe. The great thing about chili is that you can make it however you want to. I think it’s important to start with a good base and from there you can add any type of meat, dairy or garnish you want.

For my vegetable chili, I usually try to find canned chili beans with low sodium. The beans I found at Whole Foods were also vegetarian – bonus points there. My mom also gave me a great tip and told me to purchase navy beans as they aren’t as heavy as some of the other beans that are normally included in chili. As for the tomatoes, buying canned diced tomatoes or chopping up some fresh tomatoes and sautéing them works just fine. For some color, I also added about ¾ of a cup of corn.

Check your local Whole Foods Market or grocery store.

Check your local Whole Foods Market or grocery store.

Here’s the recipe, makes about 6 – 8 servings:

2 cans of chili beans – a mixture of kidney beans, black beans and pinto beans (you can certainly buy these separately)

1 can of navy beans

2 cans of diced tomatoes OR 3 medium-sized tomatoes diced and sautéed

¾ of a cup of corn (frozen)

¼ - ½ of a medium-sized onion (diced and sautéed)

Spices: chili powder, garlic, pepper, hot sauce (optional),

**salt is optional but I personally cook with minimal amounts of salt


First, I added some olive oil to the bottom of a small skillet with medium heat. Then, I cut up my onion and threw it into the skillet with seasonings, preferably garlic, or simply salt and pepper. If you bought tomatoes to sauté, then go ahead and dice those and put them into a different skillet.  

Second, while those were sautéing, I opened the cans of beans and tomatoes. I normally rinse my beans in a strainer with baking soda. Once those were rinsed off, I set those aside while I brought the tomatoes (almost) to a boil.

Third, once the tomatoes were heated up, I added a little bit of water, depending on the consistency – completely optional. I added in my frozen corn and continued to cook this mixture for about two – three minutes. Then, I added in my beans.

Fourth, once the beans were added, I stirred in my spices and covered the large saucepan. Then, I let that simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes.

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Fifth, plating and set-up: While the chili was cooling down, I began to think about who I'd be sharing the chili with and what types of customizations there needed to be. If you’re around meat eaters, then I’d recommend beginning to brown your meat before starting on the chili (meat recommendations: ground lean turkey, Italian sausage or grass-fed beef). That way, you can set the meat aside, and have your burners ready for the chili ingredients. With my chili, I like to add shredded cheddar cheese or a cheese blend, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, and a few tortilla chips. Cilantro or parsley would be great garnishes as well. As for other green vegetables, I’d recommend either roasted green beans or asparagus on the side for those looking for more vegetables.

I put an emphasis on this recipe because bringing people together is not only fun during the holidays (or any special occasion), but it should also be inclusive, right down to the food. This recipe is not only simple, but it’s easily customizable for groups of any size. Whether you’re gluten-free, vegetarian or a meat-lover, there’s something delicious for everyone.

Please leave a comment below if you try this recipe or something similar. And drop me a line if you have a favorite way of making chili!