Jim’s Vegetarian Chili (yes, really)

This is a vegetarian Chili recipe that I’ve been perfecting for years. It’s really tasty, stupid healthy and will definitely warm you up on a cold day. Best served with a pan of cornbread – the non-sweetened kind!

My preferred cornbread recipe is here, though I add 1/4 shredded cheddar cheese and a diced jalapeno for interest.



  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves of garlic (or 3 teaspoons pre-chopped garlic)
  • 4 cups vegetable stock (I like the Penzeys Spices Soup Base)
  • 1 15oz can whole tomatoes, cut up with juice (diced tomatoes work just fine, but get good ones)
  • 1 6oz can tomato paste
  • 2 15oz cans pinto beans, drained (1 ⅓ cups of dry beans, rehydrated)
  • 1 15oz can black beans, drained (or ⅔ cup of dry beans, rehydrated)
  • 2 cups frozen corn (don’t bother to thaw, Trader Joe’s roasted corn is very good)
  • 1 bottle of beer (optional – any beer works, but a bock or stout is best – you want something sweet and heavy. I prefer Shiner Bock and use 1 bottle for the chili and 1 for the chef)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (start with 2 tablespoon and increase until you get the heat right)
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar (may need to increase to 2 depending on the cocoa and other flavors)
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dark, unsweetened baking cocoa (yes, REALLY)
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder (start at ½ teaspoon and increase if you want more heat/smoke flavor. BE CAREFUL here – some chipotle powder is pretty mild and some is pretty hot)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (increase later to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (white or cider)
  • ½ teaspoon oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons butter (yes, really)


  • In a 4 quart saucepan simmer onions and garlic in 3 tablespoons of vegetable stock until translucent.
  • Add remaining ingredients except for beans and corn and simmer for 45 minutes.
  • Add beans and corn and simmer for 15 minutes more.
  • Check spices and adjust to taste. Salt, sugar and pepper are the most commonly required spices.
  • Increase to 2 cans of each kind of beans to stretch a bit. May require a bit more spices if you do this.
  • Serve with cornbread, cheese and sour cream.

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