Four Bean Vegetarian Chili

This four bean vegetarian chili is healthy, hearty, spicy, and perfect for fall or winter.  I had a delicious vegetarian chili at Moab Brewery this past June and it's been taunting me ever since.  The Salt Lake Tribune posted Moab Brewery's recipe and I referenced it in conjunction with a very popular Allrecipes version.  [Disclosure]

I used the four beans pictured above, left to right: small red bean, black bean, Great Northern bean, kidney bean.  I used dry beans for two reasons: One, dry beans have a better flavor and texture than their canned counterparts.  No doubt about it.  I've made hummus many times and you'll find bloggers always wax rhapsodic on the benefits of using dried chickpeas; Two, my pantry is cluttered with dried goods (noodles, grains, cereals, beans, mushrooms, etc.) and I wanted to clean up, so to speak.

These beans were bought in bulk so I did some research to confirm exactly which types I was using.  In particular, you may (or may not) be interested to know the difference between kidney beans and small red beans, as there is quite a lot of confusion on the 'Net about them.  Both are used interchangeably in recipes, e.g. red beans and rice.  Small red beans, or Mexican red beans, are closely related to kidney beans.  Small red beans are, well, smaller, oval, much darker (almost purple) in color, and they have a smoother texture and flavor when cooked.  Also, do not confuse small red beans with adzuki beans, which is commonly used for desserts.  They are similar in color, shape, and size but the adzuki bean's white "eye" or hilum, is much longer than the small red bean.

The beans are nearly twice their size after soaking

I used instructions from Whole Foods to cook the dried beans.  Sort the beans and throw out any cracked, broken, or otherwise flawed beans or debris.  I did this quickly on a baking tray.  Rinse the beans several times in cold water and soak them overnight (or do the quick soak as detailed in the WF page).  The next day, dump out the soaking water and refill with water or stock.  Boil 1 to 2 hours until the beans are easily mashed with a fork.  Depending on what kind of soup you're making, you can reuse the liquid.  I just poured my water out and continued with the cooking process.

Half of a large yellow onion, quarter of a red onion, small bulb of garlic

Softening the onions and garlic

Two zucchini and about 2 cups of kale

Tomato base
Added everything but the frozen corn to the pot

After 40 minutes of slow simmering with a little sharp cheddar on top

I know chili without meat may be a travesty to some, but this bowl really hit the spot.  It's extremely flavorful, filling, and chock-full of protein and vitamins.  If you leave out the cheese garnish, this is a great vegan meal too.  If you are watching your sodium intake, you can puree fresh tomatoes and control the level of salt added that way.  I added in two bird eye chilies, a tablespoon of kosher salt, and a little bit of sugar, beside the spices pictured above.  I also used fresh bay leaves from my tree, not the dried ones in the photo. 

Chili always reminds me of one of my favorite Simpsons episodes, The Mysterious Voyage of Homer.

Homer tripping out after eating "the merciless pepper of Quetzalacatenango"
Keywords: vegetarian, vegetarian chili, easy crockpot recipe, chili crockpot recipe, crockpot chili, crockpot recipe, kale recipes, moab brewery, spicy chili, four bean chili, five bean chili, chili without meat, slow-cooked chili, spicy vegetarian food, cook your own beans, how to cook your own beans, black beans, pinto beans, navy beans, white beans, red beans, difference between beans, red beans and rice, bean recipes, fall food, comfort food, winter food


  1. Looks delicious! :)

  2. Yummy - I haven't made a chili yet this season. Do you think it would work in a crock pot?

    xo, Liz

    1. Absolutely! Just add more liquid and it will be deliciously thick by the time you get home

  3. great post! would you like to follow eachother?

  4. Now this sounds amazing! I love chili and stews!


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