Traditional recipes

The big veggie chilli cook-off

The big veggie chilli cook-off

I used to pity vegetarians in winter. Lettuce won’t warm you on a cold, drizzly, dark evening, I would reason to myself.

I had a friend who once said: “The last thing anyone thinks about after a hard day is a salad”. However, the more I think about it now, the more true it gets, because even vegetarians don’t dream of salad. Far from reducing your options to leaves, deciding on a vegetarian meal leads to all kinds of invention and exciting changes. A burger could be a spicy Mexican bean burger or a Portobello and halloumi version; a chicken curry suddenly has sweet, soft butternut squash instead; and pepperoni pizza is nothing compared to Jamie’s potato, mozzarella & rosemary one.

You see, except a big old rib-eye for when things are really bad, my ultimate comfort recipe has no meat in. It may have the word meat in the original title, but I have no interest in it. Let’s not beat around the bush – my veggie chilli is exceptional, and far better than my beef one because of one gorgeous ingredient – sweet potato.

A staple ingredient around the world and an absolutely hero in my kitchen, there isn’t a lot the sweet potato can’t do. It makes brilliant baked chips with mayo, it makes an outrageous mash with goat’s cheese, and sweet potato pie is a joy I don’t get enough in the UK. When you use it in chilli, though, it’s simply magic. It takes on the smoky paprika and spicy chilli, it absorbs the sweet tomato, and adds a fantastic orange colour to contrast the bright red of the sauce.

Before anyone starts trying to tell me that this isn’t a real chilli, I need to point out that, as dishes go, this is pretty much the most personalisable recipe there is.

The concept behind it is so simple, but the places you can take it are endless. Texan chilli has nothing but meat, tomatoes and chillies, US president Lyndon B. Johnson preferred venison meat, and back in the 1880s no recipe was quite the same thanks to the tradition of Mexican “chilli queens”, who cooked chilli on fires for soldiers in Texas.

Jamie adds coffee to his, and many people add dark chocolate or sugar. True, they all use meat, but Jamie’s veggie chilli (the image at the top of this article) is a joy to behold too – partly because of the awesome tortilla salad it comes with and partly because it only takes 15 minutes. Since discovering the veggie chilli I will never go back to meat. There is no point. It won’t have the sweetness, the soft textures, the colours, or the smells.

I will take my own veggie chilli recipe to any chilli cook-off and watch as bellied aficionados choke on their own expectations. This is a clarion call; the start of something new! Meat is out-dated and has been outdone; it is frequently expensive, occasionally poor-quality, and often no more than a texture in a melee of flavours created by lovely, endlessly variable veg. All this is true – except in the case of the nut roast. Nut roasts are rubbish.

Jonny’s epic vegetable chilli (chilli sin carne)

  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 red chillies
  • 2 sweet red peppers (or just mixed peppers), roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2x 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1x 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 1x 400g tin of kidney beans in water
  • 1x 400g tin of baked beans
  • 2 tbsp tomato ketchup

For the garnish

  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Get a giant saucepan on a medium heat and add a big splash of olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and crush in the garlic. Leave to cook away for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft slightly golden – that caramelisation is vital. Toss in the chillies and peppers and cook for another few minutes, then add the spices and the sweet potato. Give it a good stir until it’s all coated. If the pan dries out, just add a splash more oil.

Leave to cook while you open all the tins and drain the chickpeas and kidney beans. Get the tomatoes in first and stir it all around, then add all the beans and give it some seasoning. Pop the lid on and leave to bubble away on a low heat for about an hour so the beans and potato can cook through. Once the potato is soft, remove the lid and leave to reduce until it gets a slightly thick stew-like consistency.

Meanwhile, finely slice the red onion, or use a mandolin to get lovely consistent slices. Pick the coriander leaves and roughly chop them. Add to a bowl with the onion, then toss with the balsamic and oil.

Check the chilli and season to taste. Serve in bowls topped with the garnish. It’s delicious with rice but even better some tortilla chips for scooping!

8 Chili Recipes to Win a Chili Cookoff

Okay, so we know what you’re thinking: chili is about meat. But your chili cookoff this year, what about trying something a little different? Eating veggies is getting cool again. And chili without meat can be even more creative and delicious as as its meat-filled counterpart.

Here at A Couple Cooks, Alex and I are not even vegetarian: we’re flexitarian. This means we eat a mostly plant based diet, but splurge on meat on occasion. And for us, we’d rather pile on the veggies in chili and save our meat quota for a big juicy burger. So here are the top unique chili recipes we’ve created that hit all the notes of the fall while being meatless. They’ve got big flavor, but are fully plant based. They’re actually all vegan chili recipes too—unless you decide to load them with sour cream and cheese. (Or just use our Vegan Sour Cream!)

Vegetarian Chili

This vegetarian chili is so good even the biggest meat-eater is a fan.

Perfect for the Meatless Monday menu or any day of the week. It’s easy and cooks in about 40 minutes. No one will miss the beef, I promise!

Vegetarian Chili

Drain and rinse 1 can black beans and 1 can kidney beans. (Do not drain the third can.)

In a large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the olive oil, add onion and saute for 5 to 6 minutes or until tender.

Add garlic and saute another 1 to 2 minutes.

Try our Bread Pudding for dessert!

Stir in chili powder, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, pepper, and salt saute for 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in diced tomatoes, drained and undrained beans, and 2 cups vegetable stock.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If you would like to bulk it up a little more add some frozen corn and bell pepper.

Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Serve chili topped with shredded cheddar cheese and jalapenos or your favorite toppings.

It’s so quick and easy I forgot to take prep photos. Please forgive me. I don’t think you will need them to prepare this recipe anyway.

The vegetarian in your life with love this recipe for warming comfort food!

. these are just some of the numerous reviews people leave under my Chili pin .

Not to brag, but it's seriously AMAZING!

A few years ago while I resided in Indiana, the community where I used to live, announced a Chili cook-off.

Since I'm a food blogger, I absolutely couldn't pass on the opportunity to show off my cooking skills. I knew I had to be there and make the best ever Chili recipe to impress everyone.

Up until the cook-off, I've never made Chili.

I don't even remember if I've ever tried it.

Nevertheless, I love challenges and with a little research, I created one recipe that came out absolutely perfect from the first attempt.

The result of my experimental cooking?

My best Chili recipe won the cook-off and everyone was curious to know what I added there to make it taste that good .

Here, I'm sharing with you the exact recipe that I won the cook-off with. It has a perfect combination of ingredients and is moderately spicy.

You can always regulate the amount of Cayenne Pepper that you add into the soup, but I found that 1 ½ teaspoons to be the perfect amount.

Did I say, you can make this Chili in a Crock pot? I made a few minor tweaks to the recipe and prepared it in my favorite Slow Cooker. The same incredible taste and flavor are guaranteed.

Before we move to the recipe instructions, here are some of the frequently asked questions about Chili.

Can You Freeze Chili?

You can freeze Chili for up to 2-3 months. Let it cool to a room temperature, place in the airtight container or freezer bag (I recommend these BPA-free double-zipper bags) and lay flat in the freezer.

To defrost Chili, simply transfer it into refrigerator and let it thaw for about 24 hours.

Then, squeeze Chili into a saucepan and reheat until it starts to simmer.

What To Serve With Chili?

Chili Soup can be served with a variety of toppings. Here are some of my favorite options:

  1. Shredded Cheese: Sharp Cheddar, Monterey or Pepper Jack
  2. Avocado - simply dice it and sprinkle on top of Chili
  3. Tortilla Chips ( these are great)
  4. Sour Cream
  5. Diced Tomatoes
  6. Green Olives
  7. Cilantro.

How Long Can You Keep Chili In The Fridge?

To ensure the optimal freshness, store Chili in the airtight container for 2-3 days in the fridge. When ready to serve, reheat Chili in a microwave or in the saucepan and serve.

My Chili is too spicy. what should I do?

If your Chili soup is one the spicy side, simply add a good dollop of sour cream or my favorite Creme Fraiche to cut through the spiciness.

Adding more toppings like the ones I suggested above, will help too.

If you love this Award Winning Chili Cook-Off Recipe, check out some of my other comfort food soup recipes:

  • RussianSolyanka - This hearty dill pickle soup is a meat lovers dream come true. Classic Russian recipe with tons of flavor
  • French Onion Soup - One of the easiest French soups with minimal ingredients required. And that crusty cheese topped baguette on top. simply yum
  • French Parmesan Soup - another comfort food soup recipe that will fill your kitchen with warm and comforting flavors of Parmesan cheese. I seriously couldn't get enough of it
  • Dutch Split Pea Soup - hearty and extremely satisfying soup that will keep you full the whole day
  • Cozy Butternut Squash Soup - easy soup with a ton of flavor
  • Russian Sauerkraut Soup - hearty and comforting beef soup your family will love

Friends, if you like this recipe, snap a picture, click on the PIN above and post your photo there. I love seeing your creations.

Recipe Summary

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chile peppers, drained
  • 2 (12 ounce) packages vegetarian burger crumbles
  • 3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
  • ¼ cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans
  • 1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Cook and stir until onion is tender, then mix in the celery, green bell peppers, jalapeno peppers, garlic, and green chile peppers. When vegetables are heated through, mix in the vegetarian burger crumbles. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer 5 minutes.

Mix the tomatoes into the pot. Season chili with chili powder and pepper. Stir in the kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and black beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in the corn, and continue cooking 5 minutes before serving.

The big veggie chilli cook-off - Recipes

Jeffrey Saad, host of United Tastes of America, shares 2 quick recipes using prepared beans.

Coming Up Next

More than 40,000 guests come to Snook, Texas annually for Chilifest.

Who doesn’t love chili? This stew is a thing of fierce devotion, and throughout out the country thousands upon thousands of home cooks and professionals alike have developed recipes that they’re incredibly proud of. Almost every state hosts annual chili cook-offs, and these are the 10 best.

Chili (shortened from chili con carne) might sound like a simple dish, but in reality it’s anything but. While the traditional chili that we’re all familiar with contains not only meat (usually ground beef), chiles, and spices, but also beans, tomatoes, and onions (and you can be forgiven if that’s the only chili that you’ve ever been exposed to), there’s controversy surrounding nearly every component of this the dish. Many consider any chili with beans to be “inauthentic,” as the very earliest chilis didn’t contain them many Texas-style chilis contain only stew meat and a tomato-free, chile-based sauce. There’s also Cincinnati-style chili (which is more of a spiced meat sauce), vegetarian chili, New Mexican chile verde, and white chili made with white beans and chicken or turkey. Clearly, there’s more to chili than what you can find in a can.

Across America, cooks are fiercely passionate about their chili, and there are more cook-offs devoted to chili across America than there are for any other food we can think of (In fact, there are even several competing chili cook-offs in Terlingua, Texas). Sometimes a part of larger fairs and sometimes stand-alone festivals, these celebrations can involve dozens of competitors, thousands of guests, and 100 or more judges. There’s even an organization, the International Chili Society, that’s been around since 1967, which serves as a home base for chili cook-offs and organizes some of the country’s largest. There’s also the Chili Appreciation Society International, which hosts plenty of cook-offs of their own.

Chili is one of those dishes that just about anyone can make, which is why it such an ideal cook-off dish. A great chili recipe is something that can take years to perfect, and it if wins big in the festival circuit it can also earn its creator a pretty penny. If you’re a chili fanatic, we strongly suggest you browse through the hundreds of chili cook-offs that happen every year on the ICS’s website, and read on to learn which our 10 favorites are.

Spicy Vegetable Chili

Isaac is on another vegetable strike. These strikes use to really worry me when I was a new mom. I’d freak out over if he was getting enough nutrients and what not. Now I just roll my eyes and say “Ok son” when he proclaims that sweet peas taste like mud with a little bit of sugar or that he no longer likes iceberg lettuce because it reminds him of wet paper (I laugh internally because he is soooo me when I was a kid)

This current vegetable strike has axed out everything but broccoli. It’s frustrating, but I’ve learned a few things over the years. Since I can no longer convince him that if he doesn’t eat vegetables poop will start coming out of his ears, aka ear wax, (Hey don’t judge me I was desperate!) I’ve resorted to another trick better know as VEGETABLE CHILI.

When he goes on these vegetable strikes, the best thing to do is to let him make his choice and respect it, knowing it will change. It always does. And if it’s taking too long to change I simply serve up this vegetable chili! He LOVES this vegetable chili which is totally mind blowing since it’s filled to the brim with VEGETABLES!! Kids are something else aren’t they!?

I’m not complaining though because I LOVE this vegetable chili just as much! Besides being packed with peppers, onions, sweet corn, sweet peas, celery, tomatoes and zucchini, it’s also loaded with beans!! Lots and lot of protein packing beans Garbanzo, kidney and black beans!

You may remember a VERY similar recipe I did for vegetarian chili way back in 2011. It’s basically the same one just updated a bit and spicier. Oh and this one doesn’t contain Grillers crumbles and few other things.

Since we are expecting our first winter storm this weekend this vegetable chili should give my husband plenty of energy to shovel off that drive way! It’s so hearty and healthy. Serve it with cornbread for one cozy, comforting meal.

How Spicy is this Chili?

This is spicy but not blow your head off spicy, I can&rsquot handle that. You can always adjust the heat with the amount of chipotle pepper you add. Pass the hot sauce if someone wants it spicier or add more fresh jalapenos on top.

I love the chili powder cumin combination in this chili too, it has a great depth of flavor. All the ingredients including the unusual like cinnamon and red wine make this the best damn chili you will ever have. Trust me, try a bowl, you will want to make this again and again.

Thick, meaty, stocked full of vegetables, plus it is so easily done in the slow cooker!! You will love making this chili, ENJOY.

Recipe Summary

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Anaheim chile pepper, chopped
  • 2 red jalapeno pepper, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 ½ pounds lean ground beef
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch garlic powder, or to taste
  • 2 beef bouillon cubes
  • 1 (12 fluid ounce) can or bottle light beer (such as Coors®)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (12 ounce) can tomato paste
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper sauce
  • 2 ½ teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 (16 ounce) cans dark red kidney beans (such as Bush's®)
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat cook and stir onion, bell pepper, Anaheim pepper, jalapeno peppers, and garlic in the hot oil until softened.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir beef in the hot skillet until browned and crumbly, 5 to 7 minutes add Worcestershire sauce and garlic powder. Crumble bouillon cubes over beef and add beer. Continue to cook , scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until liquid is hot, about 3 minutes. Stir beef mixture into pepper mixture.

Stir crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, and wine to the beef mixture. Season with chili powder, 2 tablespoons cumin, brown sugar, pepper sauce, basil, paprika, salt, oregano, and black pepper. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer until meat and vegetables are very tender and flavors have developed in the chili, about 90 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix kidney beans into beef and vegetables. Continue to simmer until beans are hot, about 30 minutes more.

Blend sour cream, cilantro, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cumin in a food processor until smooth. Serve sour cream mixture with chili.

Healthy Vegetarian Chili Recipe Notes


Chop the onion, carrots, and bell pepper to about the same size as the beans for a really nice texture in this chili. You can also add a chopped medium zucchini, extra carrots or bell pepper, or any veggies you like during the veggie sauteing process. This recipe is super flexible and can accommodate up to one extra cup of chopped veggies. Add an extra 1/2 cup of filtered water or stock (more or less as needed) if you add more veggies. I used a yellow bell pepper here because I like the color, but red, yellow or orange would all work great. I avoid green pepper in this recipe as it seems too bitter to me, but if you prefer that flavor go ahead and add one in.

3 Types of Beans

I use 3 cans of beans total in this recipe, and you can use any combo of beans that you like. I love the variation of two cans black beans, one can kidney beans and one can pinto beans to mix up the flavor and texture, but if you want to use all black beans or any combo of beans go for it. Look for beans in a BPA-free can, or even in one of the newer boxes. Drain and rinse the beans to remove excess sodium before adding to the pot. Tip, add a 4th can to stretch your chili even further.

Chili Powder + Spices

You can’t have chili without a good chili powder. There are tons of different types of chili powder on the market. Use a mild or medium chili powder that you like. Choose spice mixes that don’t have fillers and anti-caking agents as they’re not necessary and not healthy. I buy my chili powder at The Savory Spice Shop online because it’s fresh and doesn’t contain fillers. Chili powder from your local natural grocery store or Whole Foods would also be a good option. Just read the ingredients and choose something healthy.

Here’s a tip that will make all of your soups and chilis taste better: saute the spices on low with the veggies to bring out even more flavor. This step helps develop a richer flavor in your chili. Spices and garlic burn easily, so be sure to always turn the heat to low for this step, then turn it back up to finish the dish.

Remember that spices lose flavor as they expire, so if you’ve had a bottle of chili powder for a few years toss it and buy something fresh for a better tasting chili. If you don’t use it often, buy only what you need in the bulk spice section of your grocery store.

Vegetarian Chili Recipe Secret Ingredient: Cinnamon!

I know, it may sound a little strange at first, but cinnamon adds a bit of complexity to this otherwise simple vegetarian chili recipe. I will say, go easy on the cinnamon. It should be just a slight background flavor in the chili, so I indicated a scant 1/4 teaspoon here. Scant means just under or a little less. You can also do a level 1/4 teaspoon, I just wanted it to be clear that a heaping 1/4 teaspoon is probably too much. If you over-do the cinnamon, it’s just too overpowering. But that small amount really adds a wonderful flavor to this savory meal.

Crushed or Diced Tomatoes

If possible, look for San Marzano canned tomatoes. San Marzano tomatoes come from Italy and may be a little more expensive but they’re worth it. They are naturally a little sweeter and less acidic than other tomatoes. If you can’t find them, just use the best tomatoes you can find. Like all other ingredients, read the ingredients label and choose tomatoes without added preservatives or sugar. Most tomatoes will add a little citric acid to preserve freshness which is totally fine. You can use either two 15-ounce cans of diced or crushed tomatoes in this dish, or one 15-ounce can of diced or crushed tomatoes plus one 15-ounce can of tomatoes sauce. Use what you have on hand.

Veggie Broth, Chicken Stock or Bone Broth

Here’s where you can decide if your chili is vegan or not. Use veggie stock or filtered water to make this chili completely vegan. Chicken stock is an option to add more flavor to the dish and I recommend it if you’re not completely vegan. Bone broth is a type of long-simmered chicken (or other bone) broth that is high in collagen protein. It costs more but adds a ton of flavor and protein to your chili if you want to use it. You can also make it at home using my Homemade Bone Broth Recipe.

Vegetarian Chili Toppings

The vegetarian chili recipe toppings might be the best part!

My favorites are, diced avocado, cilantro, and a few crushed organic tortilla chips. I like the whole-grain organic tortilla chips. Since most corn is genetically modified and sprayed with pesticides, buy organic tortilla chips if you can. I also love to use Siggi’s Icelandic-Style plain yogurt as a healthier substitute for sour cream (it’s like an even thicker Greek Yogurt) but leave that off if you prefer to keep this dish vegan. A fresh squeeze of lime also makes for a great addition to your chili.

The big veggie chilli cook-off - Recipes

By Byron Kerman // February 16, 2011

How do you like your chili? Arterial red with big kidney beans and chunks of tomato? Brick-red with a slurry of all-meat, no-bean goodness and the occasional chunk of diced green pepper livening up the party? Are oyster crackers a happy embellishment or simply the garnish of a fool?

Embittered old cowboys may tell you chili is made only one way, but they're just provincial haters – there are as many kinds of chili as there are cooks, thank goodness. And next weekend, you can experience all of them. Here are three reasons to check out the Raging Chili Cook-off at South City's Time Out Sports Bar & Grill Feb. 27.

1. The professional/restaurant division of the competition features teams from The Shaved Duck, The Scottish Arms and Tin Can Tavern and Grille. Will they use duck, Scotch and beer in their savory chilis? With this kind of chef talent, no ingredient is out of the question. Other area pubs with chili teams include The Silver Ballroom, The Famous Bar, Sandrina’s, Yummy’s, Colorado Bob’s, The Wicked Lady Pub and Tip Top Food and Spirits.

2. The amateur division of the competition isn’t so amateur.
These local “chili masters” have won awards at top competitions for their tasty chow, and they’re bringing in the big guns for a day of meat, beans and plenty of heat. That means great competition and enough chili for an ornery chuck wagon driver and his team of famished ranch hands. A $15 admission gets you five 3-ounce samples.

3. The Raging Chili Cook-off helps keep an adult St. Louis-area amateur baseball team, the Pabst Blue Ribbon Raging Bulls, with enough balls and Glovolium to get them through the season. Now that the specter of a Pujols-less Cardinals squad is haunting the city, we need to cheer on good baseball players while we (gulp) still can .

Watch the video: Best Damn Vegan Chili (January 2022).