Meat Lovers Vegetarian Chili

Chile cooking in a pot on the stove

I know the name of this recipe is a contradiction.  But allow me to explain.  As my husband and I continue on our quest to shed some pounds and eat better, we’ve been consuming less meat.  Less, not none.  We are carnivores for sure.  It’s bitter cold right now and the thought of a steaming bowl of hot chili just sounded good to me.  The hubby doesn’t particularly care for chili – so I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could make it without meat and entice him to like it – and so, this recipe was born.

I have to say – this chili does not disappoint.  The flavors are round and mellow – with a little lingering spice on the back of your throat with each steamy spoonful.  I attribute that to using jarred jalapeños, which I find to be less spicy than fresh.  We decided to garnish our bowls with some roasted shrimp – but it’s totally not needed!  Carnivores unite!  We’ve got a meatless winner here and you won’t miss the flesh!


Serves Eight
Time:  45 Minutes Preparation

2 tbs olive oil
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 yellow pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 green pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 Vidalia onion, roughly chopped
5-6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
3 tbs tomato paste
1 28-ounce can San Marzano whole tomatoes
2 14-ounce cans cherry tomatoes
2 15.5-ounce cans red kidney beans (with their liquid)
1 15.5 ounce can black beans (with their liquid)
½ cup jarred jalapeños, roughly chopped
1 ½ tsp kosher salt
2 tsp Tajin
1 tsp ground cumin
4 tbs ground chili powder
1 tsp ground cayenne pepper


Heat a heavy bottom pot (Dutch oven) over medium high heat.  Add olive oil and heat until shimmering.  Add red, yellow, and green peppers, along with onion and garlic.  Stir to coat – and cook for about 3 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook for another 2 minutes, until paste darkens.  Add canned tomatoes.  Using a potato masher, roughly crush the large tomato pieces – don’t go crazy though.  The texture is great – I left most of the cherry tomatoes intact.  Bring to a boil – about 2-3 minutes.

Next add the beans, with their liquid (the liquid, with the paste, will thicken your chili) and the jalapeños.  Time for the spices.  Add salt, Tajin, cumin, chili and cayenne powders.  Give it a big stir.  Taste for seasoning.  Adjust to your own palate.

Reduce to medium low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Garnish with whatever toppings you like!  As you can see – we did roasted shrimp…but you could do shredded cheddar, a little sour cream (or Greek yogurt for a lighter touch) and some chopped cilantro.

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A great day for me is preparing great meals for friends and family. I enjoy experimenting with new ingredients and also updating classics that I've enjoyed for years. I love to travel and try lots of new cuisines - and wouldn't be anything without the love of my family!

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