Vegetarian Chili


At this point I have mentioned my love for vegetarian food a few times on this blog. I would say about 40-50% of the meals I eat each week are vegetarian, sometimes even vegan. I really enjoy popular vegetarian/vegan food such as tofu and tempeh, and I have grown a bit of an obsession with lentils. My roommates probably think I’m weird, but I just find something about lentils so satisfying and have been eating them once or twice a week for the past few months.

Chili is a dish I have always loved, and have tried many variations of – but all of them have always included meat. As a substitute for meat, I used tempeh, mushrooms, and lentils. I’ve noticed these three things are often used in vegetarian dishes recipes because their texture imitates ground meat, such as beef or turkey. Tempeh, for those of you who are unfamiliar, is actually made from fermented soybeans. I know what you’re thinking, and while I do agree it sounds completely unappetizing, it has a somewhat meaty texture and soaks up the flavor of whatever you’re cooking it in (just like tofu). It’s also packed with protein and at $1.99 per 8 oz, you can’t beat the price.

Though I admit I did miss the ground turkey a bit (which is what I usually use for chili), I found that this chili was still filled with many other flavors from the veggies, spices, and beans. This recipe is packed with protein, fiber, vitamins B and C, and will keep you feeling full all day long. I ate mine with cheese and a bit of sour cream, but the chili itself is vegan so it’s perfect to serve to your vegan or vegetarian friends!

Vegetarian Chili
makes 5-6 servings


  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (I used half a red and half a green)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup chopped mushrooms (baby bella or white will do)
  • 1 8 oz. package tempeh
  • 2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 15 oz. can of your favorite beans, rinsed and drained (I used a combination of black and pinto beans)
  • 2  Tbsp brown sugar (optional)
  • optional toppings: serve with diced avocado, shredded cheese, cilantro, sour cream/Greek yogurt, etc.
Your ingredients


  1. In a large frying pan, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil and add diced onion and carrot. Cook for about 10 minutes, until slightly softened. Add diced celery, bell pepper, garlic, and mushrooms and continue cooking over medium heat.
  2. In a medium-large cooking pot, add 1 tsp olive oil and crumble tempeh into the pot using your fingers. Fry until tempeh has turned golden-brown in color, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. In a separate smaller pot, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add your lentils and cook for about 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they are mostly cooked. It’s okay if they’re not completely cooked through (see step 5).
  4. While the lentils are cooking, add cooked veggies to tempeh, along with both cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. Stir in your spices and bring the chili to a boil, then return to a simmer.
  5. Add the cooked lentils to the chili, along with the beans and optional brown sugar. Let the chili simmer for another 15 minutes or so to let the flavors really intensify. Serve with optional toppings and enjoy 🙂
Start by sauteing your onions and carrots
After about 10 minutes, add the rest of the veggies and continue cooking
Don’t forget the mushrooms and garlic!
While your veggies are cooking, crumble the tempeh into a cooking pot along with 1 tsp olive oil and fry for 3-5 minutes until golden-brown
In a smaller pot, begin to cook your lentils. (I cooked mine in some leftover tomato sauce for extra flavor).
While the lentils are cooking, add the cooked veggies to the pot with the tempeh, along with the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and spices.
Once your lentils are done cooking, add them to the chili along with the 15 oz. can of your favorite beans and optional brown sugar.
Let the chili simmer for another 15 minutes or so and then serve with optional toppings

Side note, how did everybody make out in the crazy blizzard last weekend? We were lucky that we didn’t lose power, but we did spend a good 3 – 3 1/2 hours shoveling out our cars in our driveway. Our driveway is so narrow that the snowdrifts on the sides of our house and the one next door just completed blended into our cars. My car, which is a Nissan Pathfinder with 4-wheel drive, was completely buried in snow and we actually needed our neighbor’s help to push it out!

Yep, that is my car under there.
At one point I got tired of using a snow brush so I just got on top of my car and start kicking off the snow, haha.

As if that snow storm wasn’t enough, yesterday we got another snowfall. Luckily not 2 feet this time, but enough to make me feel seriously ready for spring.


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