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3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

You can still make chili when it isn’t chili!

*Ducks to avoid the tomatoes being thrown at her lame pun*

But then again, extra tomatoes could be useful for the following recipe… so keep throwing!

I was so sad that I couldn’t make it to the Austin Chilifest that I decided to bring the Chilifest to me. Well, not really… but I DID make chili (even though it’s been over 80 degrees here every day this week!). Years ago, our neighbor, Wally, brought this chili to a party, and everyone asked for the recipe. Since then, it’s received rave reviews every time we’ve made it/brought it to an event. We affectionately call it “Wally’s Tofu Chili”… Wally, however, says he hasn’t ever made it again!

tofu chili

3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 diced medium onion
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsps olive oil
  • 16oz extra-firm tofu, drained and crumbled
  • 1 tsp powdered cumin
  • 1 tsp hot sauce (can be omitted)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 19oz can red kidney beans, drained
  • 1 19oz can pinto beans, drained
  • 1 19oz can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 14oz cans tomato sauce
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced into coins
  • 2 1/4 tbsp chili powder

Saute the first four ingredients over medium heat until the onion begins to brown. Add the tofu, cumin, hot sauce (if using), salt, and pepper. Saute until crisp and lightly browned (about 10 minutes). Add all remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 45 to 55 minutes.

Now, the BEST way to eat this chili is ladled over a soft pillow of polenta, made this way:


  • 1 cup polenta, whole-grain or regular
  • 3 cups milk of choice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp buttery spread or coconut oil, optional

Bring milk and salt to a boil. Add the polenta and buttery spread or oil, and reduce heat. Cook slowly for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and watching so it does not overflow. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for a couple of minutes to thicken. Serves 3-4.

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Published on November 12, 2007

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  1. kendall says

    wow. just wow. i made this over the weekend for a party. i subbed black beans for pinto and added a bag of frozen corn and a jalapeno (i like my spice!). i also doubled the recipe so i could freeze some to eat during the week. i’m so glad i doubled. wish i had tripled. this is, without a doubt, the best AND easiest veggie chili i’ve had. thanks for sharing such an awesome recipe. its my new winter go to!

  2. Christina says

    I made this chili tonight and it was awesome! Question for you…it really made a huge pot, so I was hoping to save some of it for a later time…do you know if I can freeze the chili, once it’s cooled down to room temperature? Thanks Katie! I’m loving your recipes!! 🙂

  3. Sunnie says

    Katie, I just have to tell you – my house smells really, really good right now thanks to you! I’m making this chili for my mom, dad, and siblings (and of course, me!) tonight – and following your recommendation for serving polenta with it! Or rather, UNDER it! Thank you so much – I just discovered your blog a week ago, and I’m ADDICTED!

      • Sunnie says

        Oh, AND I ended up making your totally addictive cornbread (two servings of corn in one meal is okay, right? ;)). Actually halfway through making it, I realized that I had no canned corn and quickly (I mean . . . not *too* quickly) drove to the nearby minimart! Oh, and one final thing: your blog converted me to veganism. 😀

  4. Sasha says

    I LOVE chilli and veggies soups, but I wonder if boiling veggies for up to an hour is making the veggies lose their vitamins and such? Do you know anything about that? Thank you for all of your recipes, really helps me move from vegetarian to vegan!

    • Cierra says

      I just googled it! Sad thing is I’m really allergic to corn, so I wouldn’t be having any polenta, but I will be trying the chili hopefully soon!

  5. Yana says

    Dear Katie!

    I made this chili yesterday and that is really great! Although I still wonder “1 medium green pepper” – is it a sweet bell pepper or is it a green chili or Serrano or jalapeño??

    Thank you very much!

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