A Plant-Based Chili for Everyone

I have always been a veggie lover so when certain people started touting the plant-based way of eating I was already on board. By the way, to my way of thinking plant-based is a kinder, gentler way of saying “vegan”. For some odd reason “vegan” has become somewhat of a pejorative term. I’m not sure why but “vegan” is associated with militant, in-your-face, meat-shaming folks who might belong to PETA. And I don’t mean the bumper sticker that says People Eating Tasty Animals.

I think plant-based is a more accurate term. People have all sorts of ideas about what veganism means and plant-based describes that way of eating better. So, when we recently found ourselves watching the documentary “The Game Changers,” I took that as a jumping off point to try to persuade my meat and potatoes husband to eat less meat and more vegetables. Would he try this at least one day a week I asked? Yes, he said. I like beans. And he does. So off we go. We’re calling it Meatless Monday.

Over the next few weeks I am going to embark on a discovery of meatless meals that a vegetable-eschewing, meat-loving person might like to eat. Yes, I forgot to add that not only does he love meat but he also does not like vegetables. Really; for truly, the only vegetable he will eat besides iceberg lettuce is the potato. Will this be a Mission Impossible? No sirree Bob! I’m stubborn and do not give up easily.

My first recipe is a no-brainer. I’m going to make a Meatless Bean Chili with a ton of vegetables. I’ve figured out how to make it so he won’t go in like he always does and pick out the vegetables. Yes! He does that!

Meatless Bean Chili Recipe

This can be made with or without animal proteins including dairy depending on your choices


  • 12 oz dry beans OR 12 oz total combination of pinto, garbanzo, kidney beans, etc. Pretty much any single variety of bean or beans you like or would like to try. I use dry beans because there’s less packaging.
  • 3 carrots, peeled
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 1/2 onion, can be red, white, yellow, sweet
  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • Vegetable broth
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1-2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes, optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Soak the beans in a crock pot over night. Pour off the water. Set aside.

2. Start off by shredding the following in a food processor. (I shred the veggies so when I sauté them slowly so they will soften. Then when I add them to the beans they will be almost invisible when completely cooked. This is to fool the vegetable hater in the family so they don’t know that they’re eating veggies):

3. Sauté the veggies slowly in a large pot with a little olive oil. Don’t let them burn but you can let them caramelize. Add the veggies to the crock pot beans. If there’s any nice brown leavings in the bottom of the pot scrape that out and put it in with the beans.

4. Pour in enough vegetable broth to cover the beans. Add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste and half a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes. (Muir Glen does not have the BPA lined can) You can use fresh tomatoes, too.

5. Add cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, salt and pepper to taste, cocoa powder, mild chili powder, and hot pepper flakes if you want more heat. All the seasonings can be adjusted up or downwards depending on your preference.

6. Turn the crock pot on high and cook until the beans are tender about 6-8 hours.

7. Garnish with cheese, avocado, corn chips, chopped green onion or dollops of sour cream.

I’m writing this on a Sunday. Tomorrow is Meatless Monday. Then, I’m going to make Veggie Meatballs in a Fresh Tomato Sauce with Homemade Pasta.

Mother Earth Living
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