Vegetarian Chili

by Maris Callahan on August 31, 2008

I woke up to pouring rain this morning, which immediately reminded me that summer is on its way out, and my favorite season is on its way in.

Actually, that’s a lie. My first thought after waking up was more like a continuous trail of colorful four-letter words about the rain pelting against the AC unit outside my window that rudely woke me up prior to my alarm.

But since the damp, albeit slightly muggy weather seems to be preparing us for fall, I figured I should be doing the same in the kitchen.

Fall is the best season for a lot of reasons, the colorful leaves and the crisp air, to name a few. For me, fall is also when you get pull your biggest, heaviest cookware out from cabinet after a summer of salads and sandwiches. While it’s easy to cook food that you, well, don’t actually have to cook, fall presents the opportunity to tackle new challenges.

I had picked up fresh red and green peppers last time I was at the grocery store, probably with the intention of eating them fresh instead of chips or crackers. Since we all know how well the best laid plans work out, I instead raided my pantry to throw together a vegetarian chili.

The recipe calls for beer and I had happened to have a leftover craft beer from a previous get-together at my house. Use an amber ale if you can get your hands on one – something rich and nutty like an IPA would also be great. If you don’t have beer in the house, you could substitute cola or even cider, but you won’t get the same flavor.

Chipotle chiles in adobo sauce are easy to find in the ethnic or international aisle of your grocery store, among the salsa, taco shells and canned black beans. If you can’t find them, you can omit the ingredient and again, your chili won’t have the same kick, but will still be palatable.

Vegetarian Chili
Serves 6

2 cups chopped onion  (or 3/4 one large onion)
1 1/2 cups chopped green bell pepper (about 1)
1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper (about 1)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup beer (such as an amber ale, but light beer works too)
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chile, canned in adobo sauce
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can small red beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 1/2-ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup preshredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese


1. Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot to medium-high heat. Add onion and bell peppers to pan; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

2. Add chili powder and garlic to pan; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3. Add broth and beer, scraping pan to loosen any browned bits at the bottom. (These might look like they represent a “cooking fail” but they’ll actually add flavor to your finished creation).  Add chipotle, beans, and tomatoes to pan; simmer 40 minutes or until thick. Stir in salt.

4. Serve immediately or freeze in individual portions to reheat later. Before enjoying, liberally sprinkle each serving with cheese and/or sour cream (and remember: there is no judgment here).

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Anna August 31, 2008 at 3:00 am

The chili looks yummy! I am really excited for fall too!


alexandra's kitchen September 1, 2008 at 3:00 am

there is nothing like chili in the fall! I know I am really going to miss a true fall this year. (I’m in southern California.) but i’ll still find a reason to make chili. this looks great.


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