Vegetarian Chili


23 Jan Vegetarian Chili


Last week, Michelle Rafter asked what she could feed her family of non-adventurous eaters while providing her vegetarian daughter a dairy-free meal. I was impressed with the links, book titles and suggestions you provided. One reader even pointed out being lactose intolerant isn’t the same as having a milk allergy. Since I didn’t want to pry, I’m erring on the side of caution and providing recipes with no milk products.

Since dinner is an on-going challenge, I’ve co-ordinated three recipes. All vegetarian. All dairy-free. All delicious.

Elizabeth, of what-will-I-do-with-all-this-cranberry-sauce fame is blogging on her site, Embrace Adventure, about El Paso Pilaf. A recent convert to the vegetarian diet, she also discusses some of the ups and downs of going meatless.

Meanwhile, Cheryl Sterman Rule, of 5 Second Rule fame, shares her recipe for a vegetable stir-fry with tofu and cashews. Expect a taste treat and spectacular photography.

Me? I’m claiming victory with a vegetarian chili that even my “meatarian” husband enjoyed. I topped it with Balkan yogurt and fresh cilantro, but if you omit the dab of dairy, it’s a vegan dish that anyone will like.

When I was vegetarian I never did the fake-meat route. Having been subjected to well-intended but inedible meatless meatloaves and tofu turkey that tasted more like chicken feed, I simply relied on legumes and ridiculous amounts of dairy for my protein. Ironically, now that I’ve returned to my omnivore ways, I’m finally trying “simulated meat”. To be honest, I was shocked that it tasted good and had a convincing texture. See, it even looks like real chili.


I attempted this faux-meat version only because it comes from Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Heath: and don’t forget the chocolate! by Liz Pearson and Mairlyn Smith. The book won gold in the special interest category at the 2008 Canadian Culinary Book Awards for its easy-to-understand nutritional information and rock-solid recipes. I know “delicious and nutritious” is a bit cliche, but I’ve tested a few of the recipes and they results are good. Smith, the book’s recipe developer, credits her mother for teaching her how to cook. No, her mother wasn’t a stellar chef. Her mother’s cooking was simply awful and Smith developed culinary skills as self-defense. The inedible childhood meals didn’t hurt her funny bone either. The book’s also a fun read.

So, without further ado, here’s a savory but mild family-oriented recipe the adults can spice up as they like.

Out-of-this-World Chili
Printable recipe

Serves 8 (or 6 people with hearty appetites)

Excerpt from Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health, published by Whitecap Books, 2008


  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp (40 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • one 19-oz (540 mL) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • one 19-oz (540 mL) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • one 28-oz (794 mL) can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp (30 mL) tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup salsa, mild, medium or hot
  • 2 Tbsp + 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) cumin
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried oregano
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil
  • one 12-ox (340-g) package Yves Veggie Ground Round


  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Add the oil and onion. Saute for 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.
  2. Add the carrots, red pepper and garlic. Saute for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, tomato pasta, salsa, chili powder, cumin, oregano and basil. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 20 minutes or until the carrots are cooked.
  4. Add the package of Yves Veggie Ground Round and heat through. Serve.

ADULT VERSION: Want more spice? I add 1/4 tsp (1 mL) red pepper flakes to the pot after I’ve dished out my son’s portion. (Note: Andrew used Louisianna Hot Sauce to kick his up a notch. Next time I make this — and I will make it again — I’m adding chipotle chilies because I like a smokey flavour.)

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  • Elizabeth Kricfalusi
    Posted at 13:24h, 23 January Reply

    Looks good, Charmian!

    Like you, I pretty much avoid the faux meat products. However, someone else told me that the ground-meat substitute does really work well in things like chili and spaghetti sauce, so I may give it a try after all.

  • cheryl
    Posted at 15:33h, 23 January Reply

    I can eat tofu till the cows come home, but I still eschew other faux meats. I’ve heard seitan is good but I just can’t get myself to try it.

    That said, your chili looks tasty (esp. with the sour cream!) and if your meatarian hubby likes it, I’m sure I would, too.

  • Dana McCauley
    Posted at 17:11h, 23 January Reply

    That chili looks really good! I love thick chilis like this one. When they are too fluid, I don’t find them as satisfying.

  • Michelle Rafter
    Posted at 21:50h, 24 January Reply

    Thank you so much for the great suggestions. My daughter’s back at college right now but I can’t wait to try the veggie chili recipe when she’s home. It looks so good I may have to test it out on the rest of the family before then!

    Michelle Rafter

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 13:43h, 25 January Reply

    Elizabeth, I hadn’t though of adding the “ground round” to spaghetti. Great idea.

    Cheryl, I’m not a tofu fan normally. I don’t mind it in hot and sour soup, but beyond that? No thanks. As for seitan… you’d think they’d call it something that didn’t sound like a name for the devil.

    Dana, this chili was very thick and satisfying. I’m with you on the liquid factor. Runny chili is just wrong. Cheryl made a version with wheatberries, so I might give that a whirl sometime.

    Michelle, I hope the recipes pass with your family. If you try one, let me know how it goes.

  • Lisa magicsprinkles
    Posted at 13:52h, 27 January Reply

    This looks so comforting and homey. The dallop of sour cream put it over the top!

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 00:54h, 30 January Reply

    Lisa, your comment got buried. Sorry about that. Yes, this chili is homey comfort food. And I always add either a dollop of dairy. Not sure where I picked up the habit, but I can’t imagine eating chili without it.

  • Meghan
    Posted at 12:37h, 21 February Reply

    Just one quick question – in step 2 you mentioned adding garlic, but I can’t see a measurement. How much did you use?
    Thanks! :)

  • Christie's Corner
    Posted at 09:47h, 22 February Reply

    Meghan, thanks for asking. The recipe calls for 3 cloves of garlic, minced. I’ve updated the recipe to reflect this omission.

  • Meghan
    Posted at 18:27h, 27 February Reply

    Great – thanks! :)
    And thanks for posting this…I’ve made this twice now, once with Yves Ground Round, once with regular old ground beef, and both of them turned out very well!

  • Pete M
    Posted at 18:52h, 03 October Reply

    So you want me to use 40 *litres* of oil to make this? Is this supposed to be a soup?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 18:55h, 03 October Reply

      Good catch, Pete. 40 mL


      • Pete M
        Posted at 19:36h, 03 October Reply

        @Charmian Christie, Holy cr*p, fixed in 3 minutes? Awesome!
        I’ve added some cremini mushrooms to this recipe. simmering now – should be awesome!

  • Leda
    Posted at 13:03h, 28 October Reply

    I have got to say that this is my favourite veg chili recipe! You rock!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 08:57h, 03 November Reply

      Really?! That’s great. To be fair, the recipe is from Ultimate Foods for Ultimate Health, but I’ll take credit for spotting the talent :-)

      Thanks so much for letting me know that you love the recipe — no matter who created it.

  • AnitaMac
    Posted at 09:02h, 15 February Reply

    Looks amazing! I have never tried the ground round before – I usually just skip the beef and go with the beans! Something new to try!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 11:10h, 15 February Reply

      Beans are great, too. Hope you like it. Even my eat-loving husband didn’t complain.

  • Leda
    Posted at 19:39h, 18 October Reply

    Hands-down, best chili recipe on the planet. I’ve used this many times over the last couple of years and even my carnivorous husband likes it.

  • James
    Posted at 23:51h, 13 June Reply

    Great recipe to follow.

    Made a few minor adjustments. I didn’t use any olive oil because i don’t think oil is required in most cooking, I also omitted the basil and oregano because i didnt have the herbs from mexico.

    Turned out fantastic and this is a great recipe !

    Best chili ever ? I think so.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 22:34h, 15 June Reply

      So glad it worked for you — even without the basil and oregano. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Tracey Deschaine
    Posted at 20:02h, 30 August Reply

    Do you know if this can be frozen successfully?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:41h, 22 September Reply

      Yes, it can. Chili is one of the most freezable dishes. Make a big batch without worry.

  • Lissie Sanders
    Posted at 11:11h, 11 August Reply

    I think you need to add a bit of sea salt to the recipe and maybe a bit of pepper. Otherwise its terrific~~~

  • Gloria Stompanato
    Posted at 10:19h, 15 November Reply

    Looks yummy, trying this today! Can you provide the nutrition facts please? Thanks!

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