Vegetarian Chili with Fresh Roasted Chilies- Memories from a Veg Head

Memories from my vegetarian days were coming back and reminded me of my college years. In fact, my days of being vegetarian lasted till not long ago, 2008. For 19 years, I lived a meatless life where I nourished my days with vegetables, tofu, legumes and occasional dairy products. Then I stumbled upon what was called a “food blog” and I slowly started eating meat again, leaving behind my nearly two decades of eating meat free.

I’ve been missing those vegetarian days, where I was often called a “veg head” by my circle of carnivores and herbivores. It never bothered me one bit when I was surrounded by meat and my choice back in college to start being a vegetarian wasn’t for political, social or religious reasons. I just didn’t like eating meat any more. Vegetables, legumes and whole grains satisfied me and nourished me completely. I was a happy eater and that was all that mattered.


Recently I’ve been craving meatless dishes more often and turning to beans and tofu has put my body back in balance. An occasional meat dish is plentiful for me and I kept finding myself wanting to dive head first into a salad or brown rice bowl.

Recipes from my vegetarian past keep coming back to me and I always remember how much I loved and now miss eating a hearty bowl of chili. A rich collage of meaty beans, scents of cumin and garlic always brought a huge, hungry smile to my face.  My version of chili always had extra vegetables and a zest of fresh chili. I always love me some spice and if it’s roasted or charred to bring out that earthy flavor, I’ll have second or even third helping.

When it comes to making vegetarian chili, I always go the extra step to roasting fresh green chilies. The zest of spice and depth of roasted flavor always make my chili extra flavorful. I never, ever miss the meat part.

Sometimes chili recipes have more meat than beans, but in my case, I’ve replaced the meat with hearty vegetables and extra helpings of spice. Each bowl has a happy bite of vegetables, beans and flavor.  I love being nourished with my big bowl of veggies and beans and this dish always brings me back to my happy years as the “Veg Head”.



5 from 1 vote
Vegetarian Chili Recipe with Roasted Chiles
Total Time
1 hr

Beware! not all chilies are alike. Normally I use anaheim chiles, but their spice level varies. Proceed with caution and add the roasted chiles to your personal taste and spice level. Also, when handling chiles, try to use gloves.

Servings: 4 Servings
  • 1 medium anaheim chili
  • 15 oz canned red beans , drained and rinsed (or beans or choice)
  • 1 large carrot , small dice, about 1/2 cup
  • 2 stalks celery , cleaned & ends trimmed. Small dice, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 red bell pepper , small dice, about 1 cup
  • 1 small onion , minced, about 1 cup
  • 2 large cloves garlic , finely minced
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Wash chili pepper, pat dry all outside moisture. Rub with bit of olive oil to coat the chili pepper. Put on sheet pan and roast in oven for about 15 minutes, turning frequently for even roast. Roast chili pepper until the skin starts to bubble and char. Then remove pepper from oven and place in plastic bag for about 15 minutes. The steam will release the skin from the meat of the pepper. Remove skin and seeds, discard. Dice the chili pepper, set aside.

  2. In heated medium saucepan, add olive oil until hot. Then add onions and garlic and cook until they are soft and fragrant. Then add carrots. Cook carrots for about 5 minutes or until slightly softened.

  3. Add celery, red bell peppers and green chili. Cook for about 5 minutes or until soft.

  4. Add beans, vegetable broth, crushed tomatoes, soy sauce, cumin and chili powder. Stir pot well and let simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.

  5. For best flavor, the chili tastes better the next day, once the beans absorbs all the spices.

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }
  1. Terry Covington

    Diane, I’m coming to this recipe a bit late, but so glad I saw it. It looks delicious. I am intrigued by your addition of soy sauce and will have to try that — also your use of vegetable broth to add extra flavor. I have some homemade vegetable broth in my freezer and will have to use it for this. This is very similar to a chili I make but with a dash of cloves added. I have also used garam masala, for adding a nice warmth to the flavor (which the cloves do too). Both also add to the intriguing scent — I just love the smell of chili gently simmering on the stove, don’t you?

  2. Charlie

    I tried this this evening. I couldn’t find an appropriate chili on short notice (looked so good I decided to make it a few hours before dinner time) and it was still delicious. I tried to compensate for lack of chili with some extra spices which kinda over did it so mine was a tad spicy. I know for next time! Thanks for this recipe.

  3. Heather Morgan

    Great looking chili recipe. I’m making some veggie chili for a potluck tomorrow, so I’m scouring the web for ideas. I was mostly vegetarian while in college as well, and lately I’ve been thinking that I need to work more vegetarian meals back into my diet (and my husband’s). I have a three-month-old son, and by the time he starts eating “real” food and able to understand more about what mom and dad are eating, I’d like to be eating more sustainably and healthy. I’ll probably never be meat free again, but I’d like to get my meat from local, sustainable sources.

  4. Joy

    this is great ! my husband will definitely love this 🙂

  5. Anna @ the shady pine

    I too was a vegetarian for some time and would have loved to have had this dish back then! It looks really tasty.

  6. MooreBetterFood

    Thanks Diane! My family and I are moving toward more environmentally friendly, plant-based meals. We’ve recently found several hearty vegetarian dishes, and my two growing boys rarely complain about missing the meat!


  7. ashley

    That looks amazing, we love chili! I’ll have to try it out.

  8. Urban Wife

    This looks amazing!

  9. Brandon @ Kitchen Konfidence

    Looks delicious. Never thought to add soy sauce to chili, but I’m sure it adds some nice umami.

    1. White on Rice Couple

      Brandon- you got it! the soy sauce adds a wonderful umami depth to the recipe.

  10. Deanna

    I’ve been looking for a vegetarian chili, but none of them were sounding good. Your recipe sounds perfect. I think I still have peppers growing. Without a real cold spell, nothing stopped the plants from producing.

  11. LiztheChef

    I remember how much thinner and healthier I felt when I was a “veg head”. Trying to eat more of a vegetarian diet is going to be easier if you keep posting recipes like this chili –

  12. Connie

    How incredibly beautiful. This post makes me want to create some chili. Those butternut squash I have laying about now have a purpose.

  13. Suzi

    This is a beautiful chili you’ve made, heart healthy. I like to add corn and green olives. I have been a veghead for 40 years and back in the hippy days we just said “I don’t eat anything with a face on it”. It didn’t go over real well with my family though they thought I was nuts. Beautiful photos. Hope to meet you both at the Orlando food blogging convention next month. Cheers!

  14. Michelle

    I was a vegetarian for years and years. Then I married a Texan who father raises beef cattle. Things changed and I slowly ate meat here and there. Now as I am pregnant I find that the last thing I want to eat right now is meat, it just sounds blah…. I am okay with another break from it and when I crave meat again I will indulge but until then please pass the veggies my direction.

  15. Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

    This is such a healthy looking chili. I love how many veggies are in it 🙂

  16. The Very Hungry Bookworm

    That sounds…perfect. I often crave those bowls of vegetables as well and this looks like a wonderful way to enjoy them. mmmmm.

  17. Blog is the New Black

    This recipe looks to die for! The pics are simply gorgeous.

  18. Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

    This is gorgeous! I didn’t know you were vegetarian for so long…learn something new every day!

    And I just canned hot pepper jelly and happen to have extra hot peppers and chiles on my hands. I could make this chili…now we’re talking!

  19. Kiran @

    Deliciousness — I love that this is a vegetarian chili recipe. We don’t eat beef. But I want to try what’s chili is all about 🙂 Perhaps with this recipe. Might even add some chicken in it 😉

  20. Jessica

    What a beautiful chili! I enjoy meat a few times a week, but I feel best when I eat vegetarian at least 50% of the time. So I get ya, Veg Head 😉

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