Vegan Chili Even Carnivores Will Love

by Melody Kettle

Photo Credit: John LeeChili in its simplest form is a stew consisting of chili and meat often with the addition of tomatoes and beans. In this version we ditched the meat kept the tomatoes and beans then added root vegetables for a flavor sensation that is as comforting for the body as it is for the soul. Forget every preconceived idea you have about vegan foods – this zippy comfort food  is such a surprise that you don’t have to let anyone in your family know its meatless secret!

Aside from vegetables, this version contains some ingredients not usually associated with chili. The spice mix includes Turmeric, Citrus Juice plays a small supporting role that will be missed it its left out, and Black Eyed Peas and Corn bring visual interest and a nutritional punch.


I Medium Onion

3-4 cloves of Garlic, minced

2 tsp ground Cumin

1 tsp ground Coriander

1 tsp Chili Powder

1 Sweet Potato , peeled and diced

2 Parsnips, peeled and diced

1 large Carrot, peeled and diced

1 ½ cups low sodium Vegetable Broth

1 14-15oz can diced Tomatoes, or crushed tomatoes

1 15 oz can Red Kidney Beans (drained)

1 14-15 oz can Black Eyed Peas (drained)

1 11 oz can Green Giant Steam Crisp Corn *

2 Tbs Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice or the juice of a small lime

½ tsp Paprika

¼ chopped Cilantro

Salt and pepper to taste, smoked black pepper will put this chili over the top



In a large pot, such as LeCreuset, warm about a tablespoon of olive oil and cook the onion and garlic over medium low heat until the onion is soft and translucent and the garlic’s fragrance is warm and no longer stinging. Add the cumin, coriander, chili, and turmeric. Stir to coat the onions. Add the sweet potato, parsnip, and carrot, stir and cook for 3-5 minutes , then add the broth reduce heat and cook until the root vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes. Add the drained beans and peas, then the tomatoes and their juice. Cook about 10 minutes more. Fork test a piece of sweet potato for doneness, it should be soft and ready to eat right about now.

Turn off the heat. Stir in the corn, citrus juice and paprika; season with pepper and salt, if necessary. Stir in cilantro and serve.

 Makes about 4 servings.

Tips, Tricks, and Foodie Info That Will Get Me On Jeopardy Some Day

What I love about this chili is that it’s modular. Want more heat? Consider more garlic and chili powder. Have carnivores in the family who won’t go near it? Add some cooked ham before serving. No parsnips, go for an extra carrot.

Vegetable Broth can be a tricky item to find in some supermarkets as some of the major brands are so salty they are best suited to de-icings runways in Anchorage.  A neat trick is to “pepper to taste” at the end, taste, and then decide if you really need to add salt. The natural and organic brands are usually good choices. Of course making vegetable broth from scratch is my favorite way to go but that’s another recipe.

Coriander (we’re using the ground version here) are the seeds of the cilantro plant. In some parts of the US both the seeds and the leafy herb are called “coriander.” Harvesting the seeds at home is tough, but do consider adding coriander to the garden this summer for a fresh supply only steps away from the kitchen.

Turmeric is not usually associated with chili. In traditional Chinese medicine Turmeric is used to treat depression, in recent years Turmeric has been shown to have properties that inhibit cancer cell growth, serve as an anti-inflammatory, and detoxify the liver. In this chili we’re inviting turmeric to the party for its health benefits, but in dishes like chicken soup it brings a bright golden color while its anti-inflammatory properties can help some of the aches and pains associated with a cold. Look for this bright yellow-gold spice in almost any supermarket’s spice aisle.

Black-Eyed Peas are an unusual chili ingredient. They are high in protein, potassium (which reduces risk of heart disease) and are a good source of iron. Iron deficiencies often result in an energy zapping sluggish feeling.  But don’t tell your family how good this chili is for them, just let them enjoy!

Cornbread is often served alongside chili, but its crumbly and who has time to bake bread after a day at work, so we added corn to the chili. Green Giant Steam Crisp canned corn is about as close to the flavor and texture of fresh corn, other brands are often too soft and not nearly as bright. Of course if you have fresh corn, or frozen kernel corn, a cup of that would be a great substitute. The corn is added at the very end to keep its color bright yellow, it will warm up quickly from the heat of the chili.