There are two different types of recipes in this world: dishes you cook when you are in a hurry and dishes you cook when you are specifically trying to procrastinate. Chili, done properly, should fall into the latter category. Chopping vegetables and stirring simmering, aromatic pots of food is the perfect excuse for putting off studying for midterms or writing that next essay.

My three favorite food groups are spices, onions, and legumes, and this chili combines all three. I found this recipe while traveling to Olympic National Park this summer. It’s a beautiful place, but one that is severely lacking in food. My family and I arrived in the town near the house in which we were staying at 9 p.m. after over eight hours of driving, and we were hoping to find something to eat. Alas, California seems to have been operating on Eastern Standard Time because everything was closed except the supermarket.

Two hours and many stomach growls later, I produced a pot of this chili for my family. For me, this recipe will always represent salvation, be it from a night with nothing to eat but a three-week-old mint from an Indian restaurant or from a night consisting exclusively of caffeine and memorization.

Vegetarian Chili

(Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 jalapeño, diced, seeds removed (for spicy chili, use 1/4 of the seeds)
3 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 15 oz. cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained (chickpeas can substitute)
2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups water
1 1/2 tbsp. cumin
2 tbsp. chili powder
Salt and pepper, to taste


1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a deep saucepan. Add the onions, and sauté until translucent, which should take three to five minutes.  Mix in the garlic, and continue cooking for approximately three minutes until the garlic begins to brown.

2. Add the carrot, peppers, and jalapeño to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender (approximately five minutes).

3. Pour the tomatoes, beans, and water into the mixture and stir well, ensuring that no vegetables are stuck to the bottom of the pot. Add the cumin and chili powder, and minimal amounts of salt and pepper. When you have finished cooking, you may want to add more of each to taste.

4. Bring the chili to a light simmer for 30 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, it does not stick to the pan. Remove from heat, and serve.

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