Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Easy Vegetarian Chili with Quinoa

vegetarian chili

I know we're starting to move out of soup season, but the forecast for my area calls for around 8 inches of snow (eight!) tomorrow, so I thought I'd be justified in making chili one more time. I love this chili - it's hearty, easy, healthy, inexpensive, and flavorful. It's vegetarian but could easily be vegan if you omit cheese and sour cream from the toppings.

vegetarian chili

Because we're not using meat, we're going to build a nice flavor base with carrots, sweet potato, corn, and green chile peppers, which are smokey and flavorful without being too spicy. Check out the ingredients in your chili pepper - there shouldn't be anything but spices. I love my Penzeys medium hot chili powder, if you're looking for a good one.

If you buy anything organic for this recipe, get...
  • Organic corn without added sugar to avoid genetically modified (GMO) corn
  • Organic tortilla chips to avoid genetically modified sweet corn. 
  • Carrots are pretty high in pesticides, and since large bags of organic carrots are inexpensive, I always get them instead of conventional.
  • Want to read more about organic and conventional produce? or what GMO means?
Don't worry as much about onions, which have a very low pesticide residue, and conventional canned tomatoes, which have significantly lower levels of pesticide residue than fresh ones.

easy vegetarian chili

Printable Version Here
Active prep time: about 20 minutes
Ready in: about 2 hours 
Makes about 6 servings

1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 T olive oil
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed**
1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed**
1 15 oz can kidney beans any color, drained and rinsed**
1 15 oz can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed**
1 15 oz can corn, drained
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 6 oz can tomato paste
1 4 oz can diced green chiles (reduce to 2 T. if you're not wild about spicy foods)
1 T. chili powder (reduce if you or your kids are particularly sensitive to spice)
1/2 c. quinoa, rinsed well, and cooked according to the directions on the package (quinoa can have a soapy residue on it that can upset your stomach so make sure to rinse it).
2-3 cups water
salt to taste

Toppings: tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocado, and/or sliced green onions

In a large pot, warm the olive oil and saute the onion, carrots, sweet potato, and garlic over medium. When the veggies are fragrant, reduce heat to medium low, cover, and saute for 10 minutes. I like to get the onion nice and soft before adding the tomatoes because onions will not continue to soften much after tomatoes are added, so that's why I cover the pot.

quinoa chili

Add all of the canned ingredients to the soup base and stir well. Add water one cup at a time until you like the consistency. Let the soup simmer for about an hour to let the flavors marry. Add the quinoa about 30 minutes before serving.* We've cut back on our salt intake and don't add salt, but if you like things saltier, taste check for that now.

Top with green onions, your favorite cheese, sour cream, avocado, and tortilla chips. Like almost all soup, this stuff is even better the next day.

*I have made this by adding the uncooked quinoa straight to the chili, and it works; you'll just need to add more water. I prefer adding it later so the quinoa doesn't overcook.


  • If you want to use prepared dried beans instead of canned, you'll need 1 1/2 c. per can, or 6 cups total. 
  • You can also sub 1 1/2 c. frozen corn for the canned. 
  • I've gotten some particularly spicy cans of green chiles. Start with 2 tablespoons and increase as desired. 

Bon Appétit!