hearty vegetarian chili


Hi friends! This week in Chicago brings some of the coldest temperatures on record since the 80s. The lows of -23 (excluding the wind-chill!) forecasted for Tuesday and Wednesday could break records set in 1966….

Since I’ve been feeling so sick, I’ve been spending most of my days at my parent’s home in a suburb of Chicago. Yesterday, we stocked up on groceries and are ready to hunker down in our cozy home and snuggle with the pups.

One of my favorite wintertime recipes is my momma’s hearty vegetarian chili. Let me tell you - this is a crowd pleaser. For years my mom has served this at Halloween parties, football tailgates, holiday get-togethers and on chilly winter nights. It’s so simple but so delicious.

My family is vegetarian, but since I’ve been on a dairy-free diet to reduce the inflammation in my body caused by Lyme. Therefore, I’m temporarily removing the topping options of shredded cheese and sour cream, but if these are in your diet – I highly recommend!

So let’s get to it.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped

  • ½ pound dried lentils, rinsed

  • 2 cans (16 ounces each) red kidney beans, drained

  • 1 can  (28 ounces) of tomatoes

  • 1 can (16 ounces) tomato sauce

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, (don’t be afraid to add more)

  • 1.5 tablespoons chili powder

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube or tablespoon (I love Better Than Bouillon’s organic vegetable base)

  • ¼ teaspoon salt

  • 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn (sweet as possible)

My favorite bouillon - “Better Than Bouillon.”

My favorite bouillon - “Better Than Bouillon.”

Optional toppings:

  • Cooked macaroni (I use Banza’s shell pasta made from chickpeas)

  • Shredded cheddar cheese (I used Daiya diary-free shredded jack cheese)

  • Sour cream (haven’t found a good diary-free substitute for this…any suggestions?)

  • Chopped fresh cilantro

  • Avocado slices


1. Heat oil in 4-quart pot. Add onion, sauté until tender. Stir in lentils, beans, tomatoes with liquid, tomato sauce, garlic, chili powder, cumin, bouillon cube, salt and red pepper flakes. Add water to cover by 1.5 inches. Heat to boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered, stirring often, until lentils are tender (about 45 minutes).

2. Stir in corn and ¼ cup cilantro; heat through. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more chili powder, cumin, and red pepper flakes as desired.

3. To serve, ladle 1 cup of chili over ½ cup macaroni, top with cheese, sour cream and cilantro.