Spicy Vegetarian Chili


Crockpots are the real MVP. When I was in third grade, my school hosted a book fair in the cafeteria during the fall. One day, my mom came to pick up my sister and me from school, and we went to check out the book fair before heading home. This was around the time when I was making handwritten, custom breakfast menus for my family members on weekend mornings. I was in the I-want-to-be-a-chef-when-I-grow-up stage, times one hundred.

Scanning the aisles of colorful covers at the fair, I passed up Harry Potter and Judy Bloom for the tiny cookbook section. I found a goldmine that promised 300-plus crockpot recipes that you could throw together in the morning, let sit all day in the ol’ pot, and serve hot for dinner. I was the happiest 87-year-old in a child’s body at that book fair. I begged my mom to shell out the money for this thick hardback – my very first cookbook. It must’ve cost at least $25, and she wasn’t budging. I promised her that I’d make every single recipe at least one time, starting tomorrow if she’d like! Seriously, all of them. Promise!

That got her. My mom of four kids – who now has a sign hanging in her kitchen that reads “I kiss better than I cook” – probably knew that her 11-year-old wouldn’t possibly make all 300-and-more crockpot dinners, but I bet the allure of a few nights off of cooking was good enough. Or she was appeasing me. Either way, we got the book, and the next day I made the first recipe: rosemary chicken. And then I decided I didn’t like rosemary very much.

I’m pretty sure that was the one recipe I ever made. I don’t think my mom still has the book. I don’t, and if I did, I doubt a book of poultry and roast concoctions would be much use to me, a now vegetarian. But whenever I go home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, I still always look most forward to my mom getting out the crockpot and throwing together the best slow-cooker recipe there is: her spicy chili. It’s the top of my list of home-cooked meals. She makes it meatless for me, but feel free so saute some ground beef or turkey and throw it in. And don’t forget the cheese and sour cream on top, because duh.


(Recipe below.)












1 15-oz. can dark red kidney beans

1 15-oz. can Cannellini beans

1 15-oz. can Great Northern beans

(You can really use any type of bean: black, pinto, etc.)

3 15-oz. cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes

1 5-oz. can tomato paste

6 celery stalks, chopped

1 medium white onion, chopped (and if you can’t chop onions without profusely crying, like me, my boyfriend is happy to volunteer to help you)

3 Serrano peppers, diced

2 garlic cloves, diced

1 tbsp. chili powder

1 tbsp. cumin

Salt & pepper to taste

Shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips to top — obviously


Combine ingredients in crockpot on low heat. Let set all day — I left mine for about 8 hours. OR, if you don’t have a crockpot (first off, what are you even doing with your life?): combine ingredients in a large pot and let simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Calories per serving: 162 // Fat (g): 0.4 // Carbs (g): 30.8 // Protein (g): 9.3 // Servings per recipe: 10

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