Homemade Organic Vegetarian Chili with Beans and Cheese

The best make-ahead chili recipe ever

Okay, guys…as I write this it is November 8th, 2019 and it is 30 degrees, but feels like 22 degrees.

Even for the native Chicagoans (of which I am not one, but I live here cuz I have to), this is Very Cold for this time of year.

So, I’ve decided as many of us do the deep dive into the artic, we need a treat.


The end.

Okay, pour your wine and then dig into this other treat. It’s a delicious recipe that is destined to become one of your regular go-to’s because not only does it taste amazing, but you can change it up to reflect your (or your family’s) likes/dislikes and use ingredients you have on hand.

Plus, it’s really easy to make extra AND it tastes even better the next day.

Need more reasons to love this recipe?

It’s gluten-free, paleo, and it can even be vegan if you’re so inclined. You can eat a bowl as-is, or you can top a salad with it, or use it in tacos or over rice. It can be prepared on the stove but if you have the time, it’s also great made in a slow cooker.

OK, enough of the buildup. I’m going to include the basic recipe with suggestions to switch it up below, but honestly you can experiment with it any way you want.

The Amazing “Anything” Chili


1 to 1½ pounds of ground meat: beef, turkey, meat alternative (such as Beyond Meat products)

2 garlic cloves, chopped

2 tbsp olive or coconut oil

1 large onion, diced

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 carrots, peeled and diced

1 bell pepper (red/yellow/orange are sweeter than green, your choice!), diced

2-3 medium summer squash, diced

2 tbsp chili powder

1 tsp salt

1 15-ounce can tomato puree or tomato sauce

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with liquid

(Optional: up to 1 cup water/chicken broth as needed to thin out consistency if the chili is too thick)


In a large skillet or pot, brown your meat over medium heat, adding garlic about halfway through so it doesn’t scorch. Drain off the fat and remove from the skillet.

In the same skillet, add the oil, onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, summer squash, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and salt and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure everything cooks evenly.

When the veggies are soft and the onions are starting to caramelize, return the meat to the skillet and add the tomato puree and diced tomatoes to the pot, stirring well. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Eat immediately, or keep it simmering on low for later, or put it in the fridge for later.

Slow cooker alternative: Cook the meat and then the veggies in a skillet, then move to the slow cooker and add the rest of the ingredients, and cook on high for 1 hour and low for 3-4 hours.

Substitutions: Instead of (or in addition to!) carrots, add chopped butternut squash or sweet potatoes. Looking for a more “earthy” flavor? Experiment with parsnips or rutabaga.

Additions: Black beans or white beans, broccoli, spinach or cauliflower. Or you can add a jar of salsa for an extra kick! If you add beans and are using a slow cooker, wait till the last hour or so before adding them so they don’t turn to mush.

This is easy to make, it’ll keep you warm, it’s healthy and if you have wine with it, you may just get through this weather.

Give it a try and let me know what you think.

What’s your favorite chili ingredient? Leave a comment!

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