Vegetable Chili Con Carne

chili con carne with vegetables

I have made this recipe many times, including a meatless version where I substitute different beans for the meat. It always disappears. I found the recipe in Jane Brody’s Good Food Book. Not only does it taste wonderful, but it is colorful to look at and you can enjoy it guilt-free. I usually serve it with homemade cornbread and a green salad. Full disclosure – I almost always make this with a good quality canned bean or variety of beans. However, I happened to have some heirloom beans from Ranch Gordo in my pantry that I decided to cook up first. I was introduced to Rancho Gordo beans on a trip to Napa Sonoma with Frances and our son a couple of years ago. We had a wonderful dinner at the Culinary Institute of America and they made these scrumptious beans – just full of great flavor. I was hooked. I can’t find them in stores in Chicago, but they are easy to purchase online. They have varieties that I have never seen anywhere else and they will add such wonderful flavor, color and texture to soups and salads and chili. One large bean cooked up so beautifully that all I did was add a bit of truffle oil and some shaved parmesan and it was dinner just as is.

This chili freezes well and is a great pot luck addition to any buffet. The recipe can easily be doubled or tripled for a crowd. Try it – you won’t be disappointed.

Vegetable Chili Con Carne adapted from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book

Yield: 6 – 8 Servings


Chili Base

1 large yellow onion, chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons EVOO

1 pound very lean ground beef or substitute with three 15 ounce cans of drained and rinsed beans (black and chickpeas make a great combination)

1 28 ounce can of tomatoes in puree, coarsely chopped (if the tomatoes are packed in juice, add 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste)

2 15 ounce cans drained and rinsed kidney or pinto beans

1 large diced sweet pepper, any color

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (optional)

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup diced celery

1 cup fresh, canned or frozen corn kernels

Seasonings (Make sure that your spices are FRESH!)

2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar

5 teaspoons chili powder (Rancho Gordo also makes a wonderful chili powder)

1 Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tasblespoon crumbled oregano leaves

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/8 teaspoon ground allspice


Plain Greek yogurt

Shredded sharp cheddar cheese



  1. In a very large deep, heavy skillet or Dutch oven, saute the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent.
  2. If using meat, add it now, breaking it up and stirring it until it is browned. If you are using very lean meat, you should not need to drain off any fat. If using only beans, then add the mixed beans now and immediately go to Step 3.
  3. Add the tomatoes and the puree (or if the tomatoes are packed in juice then add 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste) and all of the seasonings. Heat the mixture until it is bubbling. Then reduce the heat, cover tightly and simmer the chili for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add the kidney or pinto beans, peppers, carrots and celery. Simmer the chili, covered for another 30 minutes. Then add the corn, cover the pot and simmer for about 10 more minutes.
  5. Garnish and serve.

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