Tasty Vegetarian Chili

“A deep smoky tasty vegetarian chili made with warm spices stewed in a rich delicious tomato sauce and finished off with a squeeze of lime.”

This chilli is so satisfying, from its smoky spice mix to its special sofrito base. You won’t find another like this out there on the internet.

This chili has a comforting meatiness that comes from its mix of kidney beans, pinto beans and red split lentils. When complemented with the warming smoky flavours of the smoked paprika, cumin and coriander, it turns into a taste sensation. 

This chili recipe is packed with flavour and is sure to be a family staple at your dinner table. The secrets are all in the techniques you apply. 

Tasty Vegetarian Chili

Recipe by George AlexanderCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium


Prep time


Cooking time





A deep smoky tasty vegetarian chili made with warm spices stewed in a rich delicious tomato sauce and finished off with a squeeze of lime.


  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped 

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, finely chopped

  • 2 ribs (stalks) of celery, finely chopped 

  • 1 tsp sea salt flakes

  • 3 tbsp tomato puree 

  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika powder

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 2 tsp ground cumin, toasted and ground 

  • 2 tsp ground coriander, toasted and ground  

  • 1x 400g can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1x 400g can of kidney beans, , drained and rinsed

  • 150g red split lentils

  • 1x 400g can of chopped tomatoes 

  • 500ml vegetable broth (1 stock cube in 500ml of water)

  • 1 bay leaf  

  • 2 tbsp lime juice (1/2 lime)

  • salt & pepper, to taste

  • fresh coriander leaves, chopped to garnish


  • Rinse the dried red split lentils under cold water several times until the water runs clear. Set this aside. 
  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a dutch oven over a low flame. When the oil has warmed, add onions, carrots, celery, garlic and 1 tsp of salt and sauté the mix gently until the vegetables have softened and reduced in density by over a half. This should take 10-15 minutes. We are aiming for the vegetables to sweat and sweeten gently and not caramelise.
  • In a separate pan, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil on a low flame and add to it the  tomato puree. Fry the tomato puree for 2-3 mins until it has turned a deep velvet red. This will caramelise the sugars, making the sauce smoother and sweetening the flavour.
  • Add the fried puree to the dutch oven along with ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika powder and oregano and give it a quick stir to incorporate the spices into the sweated vegetables.
  • Then add the kidney beans, pinto beans, the washed red split lentils, canned chopped tomatoes, bay leaf and vegetable stock and give the chili another good stir. Cover the pot with a lid, keep the flame on low and allow the chili to cook on a gentle simmer for 1 hour.
  • Once the chili is cooked, turn the heat off, take a potato masher and roughly mash half the contents of the pot to thicken the chili.
  • Finish off by squeezing 1/2 a lime and season with salt and pepper to your taste. Ladle healthy portions of the chili into a bowl and enjoy. I normally garnish my chili with chopped coriander leaves, dollops of sour cream, sliced avocados and some yummy rice.  


Tips: If you have access to a blender, I would recommend blending the onions, carrots, celery and garlic together. This helps create a more pleasant thick texture to the finished chili, which I personally enjoy. 

Although, if you think you might enjoy biting into soft delicious chunks of carrot and celery, then cut your chunks a little bigger. Make it your own!

Tips: Also, Lightly roasting the whole cumin and coriander seeds in a pan and then grinding it helps to elevate the aromatics of the chili even further

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #pestleandspice.

If you love this tasty chili, why don’t you check out our other vegetarian recipes? Like these satisfying vegan black bean and fennel meatballs.

Recipes consulted during the making of this recipe: cookie+kate’s vegetarian chili, saveur’s vegetarian chili and the hairy bikers chili con carne recipe.

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