I’ve been making this veggie chili for over 20 years, and it’s still a winner! Why? Well, it’s gotta be my two secret ingredients.
My father is a Chili Cookoff Champion. No joking–he’s kind of a chili badass. He even went to nationals one year in Las Vegas…(yes, there are state & national competitions for chili). I’m telling you–he takes his chili seriously. But, I don’t. I love making Weeknight Veggie Chili, and I’ve made this recipe for over 20 years. Why? Because of my two secret ingredients, I don’t miss the meat when I use this recipe.
Check out my short video & see how quick cooking Weeknight Veggie Chili can be.
WHAT VEGGIES CAN YOU PUT IN CHILI?
This is a trick question….because it depends on who you ask. My dad would frown on anything other than onions & chilis.
Me? No ingredient is sacred & I’ve even put quinoa in it…my father would’ve disowned me for that, but I love to change things up.
That said, bell peppers are key, so are a variety of beans, and corn.
In fact, I use two kinds of corn–kernels & creamed corn. I’ve even thrown in a third: hominy.
Sweet potatoes are also a great addition when you’re adding some spicey peppers to it.
Speaking of chilis, I add a smoked jalapeno or chipotle pepper in adobo sauce to give it just the right amount of heat. But, honestly, sky’s the limit with what veggie you can put in your chili.
- 1 Onion, diced
- 1 Red Bell Pepper, diced
- 1 Green Bell Pepper, diced
- 1 can black beans, drained
- 1 can dark red kidney beans
- 1 can chili beans
- 1 can creamed corn
- 2 c. frozen corn kernels
- 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 can diced (or petite diced) tomatoes
- Chili Seasoning Packet
- 1 Chipotle pepper in adobo, seeded & diced
- Topping ideas: shredded cheese, fresh avocado, Fritos
- Use a large soup pot to cook this chili.
- Dice onion. Wash & dice bell peppers.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large soup pot over Med-High heat.
- Add onions & peppers to oil. Sautee until onions are translucent.
- Add both cans of tomatoes. Stir. Cook for 5-10 minutes over medium heat.
- Add chili spice packet. Stir.
- Add all beans, creamed corn, and frozen corn. Stir.
- (Optional step: remove 1 jalapeno from can of chipotle. Slice open. Remove seeds. Small dice entire jalapeno & mix in with the chili.)
- Add 2 tsp. salt.
- Cook for 35-45 minutes over medium heat. Stirring every few minutes.
- Serve with avocado, cheddar cheese & Fritos.
WHAT IS THE SECRET TO PERFECT CHILI?
For me, the secret is finding a balance. You need to find harmony with a number of elements to make sure it’s balanced an clearly a chili–not a soup.
First, you need to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes with a touch of sweetness. This can come from onions, sweet potatoes, or even adding a touch of sugar.
Second, you want the chili to be thick, which can be a challenge with veggies because they tend to add a lot of water to a dish. That’s where the creamed corn comes into place. It acts as a thickening agent.
Finally, you need to make sure it’s well seasoned. You don’t want a bland veggie chili. And, without the meat in chili, you can easily fall into the bland trap.
WHAT GIVES CHILI THE BEST FLAVOR?
The best place to start is at the beginning. As the good southern girl that I am, you know I have a bacon grease container on my counter. And, I add bacon grease instead of oil to sauté my onions and bell peppers.
This gives so much flavor & smokiness to the first layer of seasoning that we do.
Then, I add the traditional chili season packet, for quickness, but I often add my own chili powder, cumin, onion powder and other chilis to the mix.
Salt is also going to be key, as is tasting for acidity. It may need a touch of sweetness to balance out the tomatoes. Don’t go nuts, but maybe a teaspoon of sugar might give it a nice fullness.
Once you’ve got those components covered, then anything else you want to add will taste amazing.