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Your New Favorite Vegetarian Chili

I promise that even if you aren’t a vegetarian, this chili may become your favorite chili to serve!

At the first sign of cooler weather and an occasional cloud cover, I start thinking about comfort food, and chili has always been on the list of comfort foods. The ingredients for this recipe are readily available in your local store, and you may have most of them in your kitchen right now.

Some of the ingredients for the Chili.

Let’s Talk Ingredients

I usually make my chili with pinto beans and ground beef, so I wasn’t sure how my family would react to this version of chili, but they actually loved it. Even my son, who doesn’t like mushrooms, said that the Portobello mushrooms in this chili were fine. He liked them. It was a pleasant surprise!

Mushrooms, anyone?

The first thing you will need to do in preparation for this recipe is clean the portabella mushrooms. I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with them, but they are substituted for meat in a lot of recipes because they have a heartier texture than other mushrooms. You may see them on menus as sort of a replacement for a hamburger.

Cleaning Portobello’s

So, cleaning these Portobello’s is a process, and it’s kind of messy.

The first step is to clean the tops. I’ve seen people use two different methods. One is to take a damp paper towel and carefully wipe off the top to take off any debris. That’s actually the method I use.

The other method for cleaning them is to scrape off the top layer of the mushroom which exposes the light-colored flesh. To me, that’s overkill, but whichever method you use, remember this: DO NOT run the mushrooms under water.

Here’s why you should never run the mushrooms under water. (This goes for all mushrooms.) They will absorb that water, which will decrease their flavor and make them “boil” in that liquid when you cook them. They already contain their own water, and when you cook them, it releases that liquid and absorbs the flavors and other ingredients that you’re cooking them in. So adding more water will mess up that process.

This is the bottom side of a portabella mushroom before it is cleaned

Next, you need to take out all of the “gills”. The gills are those things that are all under the top of the mushroom. If you kept them in the mushrooms when you make something, they will color your food sort of a blackish-brownish color that doesn’t look appetizing, and they also give a bitter taste.

*I have posted a short Reel on my Instagram account, demonstrating how to clean them. You can find it on my Instagram Account: @celebration_elevation

The easiest way that I’ve found to do this is to use a spoon and gently scrape them out. I scrape as much out as I can, and then I take a damp paper towel and kind of wipe them out. You’re not going to get them ALL out, and that’s totally fine. A little bit left in there will not ruin your recipe.

Scraping out the gills
All of the chopped veggies

After you chop up all of the vegetables, you will first brown the chopped mushrooms in a bit of olive oil and then you will add the rest of the vegetables until they are tender.

Sauté the vegetables together

Adding the Rest of the Ingredients

Next, you want to stir in the tomato paste. You’re only using 2 tablespoons, so if you’d like to learn how to preserve the rest of the can to use in other recipes, check out my process on the Reels on my Instagram account. It was posted on July 25, 2022 and the cover page title is “Tip for saving the tomato paste that you didn’t use”. Go to my Instagram account: @celebration_elevation to see my method. It was an unexpectedly popular Reel, getting over 22,000 views at the time of this post. I guess people needed advice on what to do with the extra tomato paste than I had anticipated.

Incorporate the tomato paste before adding everything else

Anyhoo, back to the recipe. After the tomato paste gets incorporated, you will add the rest of the ingredients and let it cook to become a delicious dinner.

The spices in this recipe are unusual for chili, but I promise they taste great in it

You can then scoop it into your bowls and add toppings, which is my favorite part! There’s the usual things: sour cream, cheese, avocado. But you also might want to try Fritos corn chips and/or fresh chopped celery. I know the celery sounds crazy, but my brother-in-law has always added that as a topping to his chili. When I finally tried it, I realized he really was onto a great twist in topping ideas.

How to Serve Your Chili

This chili is delicious served alongside some corn bread

This chili is very hearty and doesn’t have much liquid, so you can add extra vegetable broth if you like it less thick. If you make it as the recipe reads, you can actually eat it with a fork or a spoon.

I hope you’ll give this a try, and then please come back to this post and let me know in the Comment section below what you think of it.

Thanks so much for stopping by my website and reading my words. I hope you celebrate the beginning of this changing weather by giving this chili a try!

xoxo Teresa

lime green plate with white bowl of chili, topped with cheese and avocado, served alongside cornbread

Fall Vegetarian Chili

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

This is not your typical chili! It is made with portabella mushrooms and no meat and makes a delicious, hearty meal.


  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 2 tbls olive oil
  • 1 lb Portobello mushroom caps, gills removed, chopped (about 5 cups)
  • 1 med size red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 med jalapeno chili, (seeded and ribs removed) chopped
  • 2 lg cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbls tomato paste
  • 2 15-oz cans no-salt added great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp kosher salt (taste and add more, if needed)
  • Toppings (optional) shredded cheddar cheese, chopped avocado, lime wedges, chopped fresh celery, Fritos corn chips, sour cream.


Chop fresh cilantro leaves and the most tender part of the stems (about 2/3) cup). Set aside.

Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high. Add mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in cilantro, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about 5-6 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly until fully incorporated, approx 1 minute.

Stir in beans, tomatoes, broth, cumin, coriander, and salt. Bring to a boil over med-high; reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until flavors meld and mixture thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

This makes very thick chili. If you prefer your chili to have more liquid, add more vegetable stock, to your liking.

Top with any or all suggested toppings.

Nutrition Information:

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 344Total Fat: 9gCarbohydrates: 53g

Did you make this recipe?

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