Soups & Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian
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Vegetarian Chili (Chili sin Carne) with Grünkern

Vegetarian Chili (Chili sin Carne) with Grünkern

Hearty and satisfying, this one-pot recipe for vegetarian chili is such the perfect thing for a blistery cold night. It’s packed with just enough vegetables (but feel free to add more!), kidney beans and my all-time favorite grain — Grünkern. This plant-based version of Chili con Carne is actually called Chili sin Carne (chili without meat) or in Mexico, Chili De Frijoles…vegetarian chili with kidney beans. The flavor is amped up with oregano and all those other spices that make chili great. Oh and did I mention I add a little chocolate to this chili? Yes, chocolate. Just one square to add an extra layer of richness. I like to use my favorite organic, fair trade chocolate – a mild dark chocolate with 70% cacao. Sometimes I even use cacao powder and a little soft brown sugar, to mellow out the bitterness. There are so many variations of chili out there, but with a little tweaking and playing around with variations, as far as basic chilis goes, this is my favorite so far.

Vegetarian Chili (Chili sin Carne) with Grünkern

Vegetarian Chili (Chili sin Carne) with Grünkern

Variations to this vegetarian chili (Chili sin Carne) recipe

I would call this a basic recipe for vegetarian chili. One that can be easily adapted. The key ingredients are the spices (although many chili recipes do not contain oregano), the tomatoes and the kidney beans. The rest is up to you. I sometimes use fresh beans rather than canned beans (highly recommended for taste, but of course more work) or simply a mix of beans and sometimes I double up the beans and skip the Grünkern or even serving rice on the side. Other times I add corn, or sweet potato or even zucchini (at the end along with the beans, as I like my zucchini fresh tasting and not too soft). And what I also love to do is serve chili over top of blanched spinach (50 g per person) for an extra healthy meal that tastes fantastic! This is a great thing to do with leftovers. Or add extra veg to the leftovers and you have the feeling that you are eating a new meal.

Vegetarian Chili (Chili sin Carne) with Grünkern

This soul warming and simple vegetarian chili, requiring just one pot, comes together in less than 1 hour. And since it’s a one pot recipe, you have a satisfying meal all in one, and without much effort! Totally doable for any night of the week, and enjoy leftovers the next day! I hope you guys love this Chili sin Carne as much as I do!

Vegetarian Chili sin Carne with Grünkern
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
45 mins
Total Time
55 mins

This Chili Sin Carne offers lots of flavors, can easily be reheated, is filling, nutritious and the best thing - it basically cooks itself. This plant-based chili makes a delicious and hearty vegetarian meal.

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Servings: 4
Calories: 288 kcal
Author: Elle
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 small yellow onions, chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (sweet)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 x 400 g can organic chopped tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup Grünkern (150 g)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 x 400 g can kidney beans
  • 1 fresh red chili, deseeded and membrane removed, thinly sliced
  • 10 g dark chocolate (1 square) (mild 70% cacao)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 lime, quartered
To garnish (optional)
  • fresh herbs, such as flat-leaf parsley or cilantro
  • sprinkling of chili flakes for extra heat
  • sliced avocado
  1. In a large non-stick saucepan heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté until the onion is transparent, about 6-7 minutes.
  2. Add the red pepper and carrot and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add the spices and stir for 1 minute.
  3. Next add the chopped tomato, Grünkern and water. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the kidney beans and fresh chili, cook for 2-3 minutes, then add the chocolate, and season with salt and pepper. Stir until chocolate melted and well combined.
  5. Serve into bowls. Garnish with fresh parsley or cilantro and serve with a wedge of lime. Enjoy!
  • I added the fresh chili at the end as I like it’s fresh flavors. But if you prefer you can add it along with the red pepper and carrots. This will mellow it’s flavor. Be sure to remove the white membranes along with the seeds, unless you like things spicy. This is where the heat is.
  • I serve the lime on the side, but you could also squeeze a whole lime in with the Chili sin Carne before serving. For me, lime is a must, as it adds the perfect amount of fresh and brightly flavored acidity.
  • Feel free to used pre-cooked dried kidney beans for this recipe, they of course taste even better. Soak dried kidney beans in cold water for 8-12 hours, then simmer them in water gently for 1-2 hours. If you have an instant pot pressure cooker (lucky you!) then soaking isn't required, just cook on high pressure for 30 minutes for beans that hold their shape and have a bit of chew. Tipp: If you find beans to be hard on your stomach, then pre-soak them overnight first or add in 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar while cooking.
  • When reheating leftovers you may want to add a little more water, as the Grünkern will soak up some of the liquid as it sits. Leftovers also taste great served over blanched spinach.

If you make this Vegetarian Chili sin Carne with Grünkern recipe, I’d love to hear how it turned out for you! Be sure to rate it and leave a comment below to let me know! Especially if you have tips for other readers. Or take a picture and tag me on Instagram @ellerepublic and don’t forget to hashtag #ellerepublic so I don’t miss it!

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