Soupy Sundays: Vegetarian Chili with Fresh Corn

Chili is one of those meals that carries a lot of memories for me.  My mom used to make a big pot of chili when the weather got cold, and so the taste of steaming-hot bowl of chili always brings back good memories for me.

I decided to make a vegetarian version of the chili because the beans were always my favorite part, and the soup is really hearty without adding any ground beef or turkey.  I also wanted to make the soup as easy as possible to make.  This is the kind of soup where you chop everything, toss it in the pot, and then leave it alone for an hour or so until you're ready to eat.  Perfect casual Sunday dinner option.

To make the dish taste summery, I decided to add some fresh corn.  The corn cuts some of the acidity of the tomato-based soup and adds freshness to the dish.  You could even add the corn in the winter using frozen corn, but there's something about fresh corn on the cob that really tastes like summer to me.  

This recipe makes a nice big pot of soup for the week, and you can make the chili last even longer by cooking up a pot of brown rice while the chili is simmering.  When you're ready to serve it, just add a large spoonful of rice to the bottom of the bowl and pour the chili on top.  Without cheese and sour cream on top, this is a vegan and gluten-free meal high in protein and fiber.  Did I mention that the chili is also really delicious and will make your house smell amazing when it's simmering on the stove?

Vegetarian Chili (Makes about 6 hearty portions of soup, more if served over rice)
1-2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium Vidalia onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced into ¼- to ½-inch pieces
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon coriander
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
2 cups vegetable stock or water*
1 can organic red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup dried French lentils**
2 ears of fresh corn on the cob, kernels cut from the cob
Optional Toppings: chopped green onions, sour cream or Greek yogurt, grated cheddar cheese

*If you use water rather than vegetable stock, you might want to add a few tablespoons of tomato paste to the soup when you stir in the beans to add some extra flavor and richness to the soup.

**I think lentils are a really great addition to the vegetarian chili, and they’re also quite affordable.  I pick them up in the bulk section of Whole Foods, but you could always substitute another can of beans for the lentils if you don’t have any.

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.  Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 4-5 minutes.  

2. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, coriander, bay leaf, and salt and stir so that the spices coat the vegetables.  Cook for a few minutes until the spices become fragrant. 

3. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock or water, kidney beans, black beans, and lentils and bring the soup to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 40 minutes to 1 hour, until the lentils are tender.  

4.  Add the corn and simmer for a few more minutes before serving.  Taste to make sure the soup is seasoned to your liking, and feel free to add a bit of cayenne pepper or hot sauce at the end if you like your chili spicy.  Remove the bay leaf.  

5. If serving with rice, add rice to the bottom of the soup bowls or mugs and pour a ladle or two of chili on top.  

Add any toppings and serve immediately.  
Here are the nutrition facts for one serving of chili made with water and served without rice, assuming you get 6 servings total. 
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 389 g
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat 
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 
Trans Fat 
Total Carbohydrates 
Dietary Fiber 
Vitamin A 80%Vitamin C 29%
Calcium 5%Iron 25%

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