Chipotle red bean tortilla soup on a dark wood background

Unbeatable vegetarian chili

This tasty, good-for-you, budget-friendly chili is a great way to kick off Nutrition Month.

I’ve been writing heart healthy cookbooks for a very personal reason; my father was diagnosed with heart disease when he was in his fifties. 

Mairlyn Smith

Mairlyn Smith

Right around that time, I was in university studying food and nutrition. As I learned how diet can play a big part in your long-term health, I would bring home the latest research and regale my dad with what I learned. As a result my dad changed his lifestyle way back then and as a testament to a heart-healthy lifestyle, he just celebrated his 93rd birthday.

My dad’s success story is just one reason I’m proud to be part of Nutrition Month. Running all of March, Nutrition Month is also the perfect time to introduce myself and explain what my cooking is all about. Namely:

  • I believe that every month should be nutrition month.
  • I believe that we have the power to improve our lives through what we eat.
  • And I believe healthy needs to taste like it’s too good to be good for you.

All of my recipes are delicious first and oh, by the way, very good for you. As the self-proclaimed Fibre Queen, I’m all about getting both soluble and insoluble fibre into our eating plans, and that includes whole grains, flaxseed, fruit, vegetables and the wonderful world of pulses.

Expect to hear a lot more about that world since 2016 is International Year of Pluses. Those beans, lentils, chickpeas and split peas are not only heart healthy, but they are also economical and full of fibre.

They happen to be delicious too. Here’s proof!


Family-style meatless chili

My family-style meatless chili is loaded with those heart-healthy, antioxidant-rich pulses: beans and lentils to be exact. meatless chiliPlus, I’ve added onions, red pepper, spices and tomatoes to keep this recipe heavy on flavour and vegetables. Bonus: This chili isn’t spicy, making it a kid-friendly dinner. If you want a kick, add some hot sauce to your own bowl. 


6 cloves garlic, minced and set aside (yes, you read that correctly)
2 medium onions, diced
One – 19 fl oz (540 mL) can black beans, rinsed and drained
One – 19 fl oz (540 mL) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
One – 19 fl oz (540 mL) can lentils, rinsed and drained
1 tbsp (15 mL) canola oil
2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen corn, thawed (rinsed under cold water and drain well)
1 whole roasted red pepper – I use the ones in the glass bottle
1 tbsp (15 mL) chili powder
1 tbsp (15 mL) dried oregano leaves
2 tsp (10 mL) ground coriander
2 tsp (10 mL) ground cumin
1 tsp (5 mL) dried basil leaves
¼ – ½ tsp (1- 2 mL) cracked black pepper
One- 28 fl oz (796 mL) can diced tomatoes
1 tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce

Toppings per each serving:

2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh cilantro, optional
1/8th fresh avocado



  1. Heat a large pot over medium heat; add the oil and onions. Sauté for 5 minutes or until golden brown.
  2. Add corn and sauté for 5-8 minutes or until the corn and onion turn a darker golden brown. This step adds a really fabulous flavour.
  3. While you are waiting for the corn and onions to do their thing, mix together chili powder, oregano, coriander, cumin, basil and cracked black pepper in a small bowl. Set aside.
  4. When corn and onions are the right colour, add the red peppers and garlic, and sauté for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the spice mixture and sauté for about 30 seconds. You should be able to smell some fabulous aromas.
  6. Add tomatoes. Make sure to scrape up the bits on the bottom of the pot to keep the chili from burning. Add all three beans and the Worcestershire sauce. It is going to look really thick. Don’t worry: while it is cooking, the liquids are released from the ingredients.
  7. Bring to the boil, cover, reduce heat to simmer and continue cooking for 30 minutes stirring occasionally. All chili recipes taste better after 45-60 minutes of simmering, but if you are in a hurry, serve the chili after 30 minutes. Not in a hurry, simmer for that extra 15-30 minutes. Better yet? The leftovers tomorrow.
  8. Serve chili in a deep bowl, sprinkle with 2 tbsp (25 mL) chopped fresh cilantro and 1/8th of an avocado, chopped.

Professional tip

What to do with any leftovers: You can either freeze for a future dinner or transform into Individual nacho plates or a Jacket potato.

Individual Nacho Plates

Spoon 1 cup (250 mL) hot Family Style Meatless Chili over 10 whole grain unsalted corn chips onto a large plate.  Top with 2 tbsp (25mL) light sour cream, 2 tbsp (25 mL) mild, medium, or hot fresh deli salsa, and ¼ fresh avocado, diced.

Jacket Potato

Top a baked potato with some of the leftover chili, sprinkle with cilantro and some grated cheese for a quick dinner idea.

Nutritional Information

Makes 8 cups (2 L)
One serving = 1 cup (250 mL)

One serving with avocado contains:

  • Calories 344
  • Protein 17.5 g
  • Total Fat 7.5 g
    • Saturated Fat 0.8 g
    • Trans fat  0 mg
  • Carbohydrates 54.4 g
    • Fibre 14.1 g
    • Sugars 6.6 g
    • Added sugars 0.2 g
  •  Sodium 488 mg


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