You may think of chili as a Mexican recipe, but this vegetarian version follows the basic principles of a Mediterranean diet. We use three types of beans in this recipe, along with two types of lentils. It’s hearty, full of wonderful warming spices, and the heat of a red chili pepper. Even traditional meat chili lovers will appreciate the amount of flavor in this vegetarian chili.

My basic recipe is actually vegan until you start to add toppings. I like to top my chili with a little shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of sour cream, and a few slices of jalapeño pepper. If you want to keep this recipe vegan, choose alternate toppings, such as chopped avocado, hot peppers, and perhaps a sprinkling of cilantro or parsley.

In this recipe I used a three-bean combination that came all together in a can. You can use whatever type of canned beans that you like. My combo had pinto beans, kidney beans, and black beans. If you can’t find a combo, use cans of individual beans. Black and pinto work really well in this recipe.

I use two types of lentils in this dish to vary the texture. French lentils are petite and cook quickly. Red lentils are the usual variety you will find in any supermarket. It doesn’t matter which type of lentil you use. Use whatever is readily available to you.

Let me know if you come up with any interesting topping combinations. Enjoy!

vegetarian chili

Vegetarian Chili

A vegetarian version of chili using 3 types of beans and 2 types of lentils.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 10 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean, Mexican
Servings 8


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium leek finely chopped
  • 1 fresh chili pepper seeded and minced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup petite green lentils
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 15-ounce cans mixed beans (kidney, pinto, black) rinsed and drained
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans chopped tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 tsp salt


  • In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the leek, chili, and garlic, and cook for about 1 minute, until fragrant.
  • Add spices and cook for 1 minute to wake up their flavor.
  • Add tomato paste and water. Cook for 1 minute.
  • Add broth, lentils, beans, tomatoes with their juices, and salt.
  • Cover and bring to a boil. Remove cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.



I like to serve this chili with cheddar cheese shredded on top, a dollop of sour cream, and a few jalapeño slices. If you want to keep this chili vegan, use alternate toppings such as chopped avocado, hot peppers, and garnish with parsley or cilantro.
This recipe makes a big vat of chili, large enough to feed 8 people. You can easily cut the recipe in half to serve 4.
You can vary the heat in this recipe by including the seeds from the chili pepper. The more seeds, the hotter this recipe will be.
Keyword chili, vegan, vegetarian

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