Tale of Two Chilis Part 2: Three Bean Vegetarian Chili


It was the best of chilis, it was the worst of chilis: chili with beans or chili with meat, chili over noodles or on its own, Skyline or Goldstar, five-alarm spicy or mild for a child.  In short, chili is a dish with many possible incarnations, and although some of the noisiest (self-appointed) authorities insist that their recipe is the best, Laura and I want to present you with two chili options, for comparison only. 

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

Yes, I shamelessly stole Amy’s intro from last week’s post for Part Two of a Tale of Two Chilis, because I love it and I am not nearly that clever!

So, let’s talk vegetarian chili. T o me this is one of the easiest meals to make for a mixed group of vegetarians and non-vegetarians.  Or for someone trying out Meatless Monday.  It’s hearty and if the recipe is good, you don’t even miss the meat.  Now, I know for some it is sacrilege to even call a meatless dish chili, but my definition is looser and yours should be too.  Or call it stew, whatever.  Since my husband loves a vegetarian chili, I’ve tried numerous recipes to varying degrees of success.  One of my favorites is this chili from Moosewood.  We make it without the bulghur most of the time, and it’s quite tasty and healthy.

But sometimes you want something different.  That’s where this chili comes in.  It includes a few non-traditional ingredients like olives, edamame, and balsamic vinegar.  It sounds strange, but they come together to make a delicious spin on the classic. You can also make this year round by subbing out canned/frozen items for fresh.  In the summer, I use chopped, ripe tomatoes and my own roasted chilies, but in the winter I use canned.  In fact, you can make this whole meal in about 30 minutes using items from the pantry and freezer, and it tastes nice and fresh.  I always serve this over brown rice, but it would be good plain for the purists or over whatever grain you have on hand.

I’ve had this recipe for years and I’m not sure where it came from.  It was torn out of a magazine, but there’s only a page number and the words, “Meatless Main Dishes” to guide me.  Does anyone else know where the original came from?

And now, to echo Amy again, ““It is a far, far better chili I make than I have ever made; it is a far, far better meal that I eat than I have ever eaten.”

Vegetarian Three Bean Chili

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

Modified from a mystery magazine source

1 small onion diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbs. olive oil
15 oz can tomato sauce
15 oz can black beans
15 oz can Great Northern beans
15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained or 3 plum tomatoes, diced
1 cup frozen, shelled edamame
4 1/2 oz can diced green chile or 1 large roasted green chile, diced
1 tbs. balsamic vinegar
1 small can sliced olives or about 1/3 cup sliced olives from a larger can
2 tbs. fresh cilantro
1 cup dry rice, cooked or other grain of choice
Shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, or a mix)

1. In a large pot, cook onion over medium heat until tender, about 5 min.  Add garlic and cook 1 min more.

2. Add tomato sauce and next six ingredients (through vinegar).  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Stir in olives and cilantro, simmer 5 more minutes.

4. Serve over rice, topped with cheese.