This Vegetarian Chili has the most perfect blend of spices and balance of flavors that will have you coming back to it again and again.
I’ve got this crazy love affair going with chili. It’s OK…my husband is on to me and he is totally fine with it. I mean, he gets to eat a lot of chili. How can that be wrong?
Traditionally, chilis are associated with meat. To some, just the idea of a vegetarian chili makes noses crinkle and eyebrows furrow. But, you probably already know just how delicious a vegetable chili can be. This Black Bean and Lentil Chili has been a favorite with so many of you for years!
How to develop flavors in vegetarian dishes
Creating satisfying flavors when cooking vegetarian dishes requires finding balanced harmony between the flavors that hit our tongues. The four basic tastes…bitter, salty, sour and sweet are what our taste buds can taste…and what our hearts crave. Bringing those flavors all together in a way that evokes complete satisfaction just takes a little work…trial and error. And yes, veggies can do that all on their own.
Those four tastes come together in this chili. There’s a spicy savoriness from the poblano peppers, chili powder and smoked hot paprika. Then a slight sweetness from the allspice and bites of sweet potato. A bit of tangy hot pepper sauce and some squeezes of fresh lime create a pop of sour. It’s like a welcoming zing against the other flavors. Fire roasted tomatoes, smokey cumin and smoked hot paprika create a really lovely smokey bitterness. Together, these flavors will make your mouth sing.
I love pairing this chili with Yellow Rice. I got that idea years ago from a dear friend. This yellow rice is made with a bit of turmeric, adding so much to the flavors of the chili. If rice isn’t your thing, try serving this with some cornbread, biscuits or crunchy tortilla chips.
Of course, toppings are always important. I love topping chilis off with any combination of some fresh cilantro, diced red onion, a few jalapeño slices, some shredded sharp cheese or crumbles of cotija, a bit of sour cream, buttery cubes of avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime and copious amounts of jalapeño pepper sauce. What are your favorite toppings?
So, if you’re looking for a super flavorful, easy vegetarian chili, give this one a try. I’d love to hear how you liked it! xo
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion diced
- 1 medium red pepper diced
- 1 medium poblano pepper diced
- 2 medium carrots sliced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons ground chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground hot smoked paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 14 ounce cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
- 1 medium zucchini diced
- 1 medium sweet potato diced
- 2 15 ounce cans small red beans drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 fresh lime
- jalapeno pepper slices
- chopped red onion
- jalapeno pepper sauce
- additional fresh lime
- In a large heavy pot over medium high heat, warm the olive oil and add the onion, red and poblano peppers and carrots. Cook just until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for just one minute. Add all of the spices and the bay leaf. Stir to coat the vegetables and get the spices a bit toasted for just one more minute.
- Add the diced tomatoes, zucchini, sweet potato, red beans, broth, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Bring the chili to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium low. Cook covered for 35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Before serving, squeeze the lime juice over the top and give it a stir.
- Serve with Yellow Rice and your favorite toppings!
If you love this Vegetarian Chili as much as I do, you’re definitely going to love these dishes too…
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