Vegetarian or Vegan Chili Recipe

Searching for an easy chili recipe? This is it! All you have to do is chop, stir and cook.

vegetarian chili

National Soup Month

January is National Soup Month for a reason. Have you noticed that it is cold out? What happened to our “much warmer than usual” El Niño weather prediction?

Mother Nature may still be showing us who is boss, but mothers everywhere know that the answer to a cold day is a steamy bowl of homemade soup.

Chili of course, by its very nature, is more filling than your average soup. And this vegetarian chili is no different. I have been making this particular version for more than 20 years and it is loved by 5 generations – everyone from my 96 year-old grandmother to my 7 year-old grand-daughters happily dig into bowls of this chili – vegetarians and meat eaters alike.

Vegetarian or Vegan Chili?

The recipe as written meets vegan guidelines, as long as you don’t top the chili with cheese. Use peanuts for topping to keep the recipe vegan.

Making More or Fewer Servings

I seldom only make 4 servings of this soup. For one thing, leftovers freeze very well. Also, I usually serve it when the whole family is over and that means at least 12 servings. Luckily the recipe is very adaptable. It can be doubled or tripled by increasing all the ingredients (except the chili powder) by 2 or 3. Increase the chili powder by 1 1/2 to start. You can always add more chili powder at the table if individual diners prefer a spicier version.

It is equally easy to halve the recipe and make only 2 servings.

Vegetarian or Vegan Chili Recipe
Searching for an easy chili recipe? This is it! All you have to do is chop, stir and cook.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4 servings
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 1 14oz can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 12oz can tomato or vegetable juice
  • 1 14oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ large leek, white and light green parts chopped
  • 1-2 large carrots, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2-3 tsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ⅓ cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup frozen corn kernels
  • shredded Cheddar cheese (optional)
  • chopped peanuts (optional)
  1. Combine first 12 ingredients (kidney beans through coriander) in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.
  2. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat.
  3. Add barley and corn kernels. Stir.
  4. Cover and simmer for about 1 hour or until barley is tender, adding more water during the cooking period if necessary.
  5. Remove bay leaf.
  6. Serve chili topped with shredded cheese or peanuts if desired.


by Renee Pottle

Renee Pottle, a freelance writer and Home Economist, is fanatic about all things food. She blogs about canning and food preservation at Find her professional food writing info at

January 21, 2016

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