Vegetarian Chili

Since I posted my Warm You Up Chili recipe, I’ve had several requests for the Chili-Cookoff-winning vegetarian version I mentioned. I made a batch of Vegetarian Chili this weekend — it was drizzly and gray and chili was just what the day ordered. It worked its magic as usual — filling the house with the satisfying smells of cumin and peppers and our bellies with the meat-like chew of barley and the bright taste of the veggies. As a bonus, this recipe is vegan and, if you substitute quinoa for the barley, it’s gluten-free as well. But all you’ll remember is how good it tastes.

Makes 8 to 10 servings

Recipe from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook


  • 2 1/2 cups dry kidney beans, soaked
  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 cup uncooked bulgur wheat
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cups diced onion
  • 6 to 8 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 medium stalk celery, diced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. chili powder (more, to taste)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt (more to taste)
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 medium green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes, can be fresh, frozen or canned
  • 1-2 cups tomato juice
  • 1 cup diced cilantro or parsley for garnish


  1. Place soaked beans in Dutch oven or sauce pan, cover with water and bring to a boil. Cover pan, turn down heat to a simmer and cook until done (about 1 1/4 hours). Watch the water level during cooking, adding more if needed. Drain off excess water once beans are cooked.
  2. Heat tomato juice to boiling. Pour it over bulgur wheat in a pan with a top. Cover. Let sit 15 minutes until bulgur wheat has expanded and softened. Add bulgur wheat to cooked and drained beans.
  3. Heat oil in skillet. Add onion, garlic, carrot, celery and spices. Sauté over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add green pepper and cook until all vegetables are tender.
  4. Add vegetables and diced tomatoes to the beans and bulgur wheat. Stir together and heat on low. Add tomato juice to achieve desired consistency. Continue to simmer and stir, about 15 minutes. When all is heated and cooked down and well-mixed, remove chili from stove top, sprinkle on cilantro or parsley and serve.