Dinner Tonight: Vegetarian Chili

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

I'm not sure I really have any business cooking a recipe for chili that's not only vegetarian—making it a contradiction in terms—but also pulled from Patricia Wells' The Provence Cookbook. I think we all agree that the French are many things, but chili experts is not one of them. It's more like a vegetable stew with a healthy kick of chili powder. But when you get down to it, who really cares as long as it's delicious?

This certainly is. Essentially a slew of vegetables sweated then simmered with puréed tomatoes, chili powder, kidney beans, and rice, the result is healthy, hearty, and cost almost nothing to make. The aromatic vegetables make a wonderful base for the tomatoes, while the rice carries it into a full meal.

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

Dinner Tonight: Vegetarian Chili

About This Recipe

This recipe appears in: Serious Entertaining: How to Throw a Chili and Cornbread Cook-off


  • 2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into thin rounds
  • 1 leek, green portion reserved for another use, whites cut into thin rounds
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and flesh cut into medium dice
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into thin slices
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 quart cold water
  • 1 15-ounce can red kidney beans
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder, or to taste
  • 2 cups cooked rice


  1. 1

    In a large heavy soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the vegetables and cover, then lower the heat. Sweat them until soft, about 5-7 minutes.

  2. 2

    In the meantime, put the tomatoes in a blender or food processor and purée.

  3. 3

    When the vegetables are finished cooking, add the chili powder and cook for an additional minute. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes until the flavors some together. Season to taste with salt and more chili powder, if desired.


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