The history of chili is rich and diverse, tracing its roots to various cultural influences. While the exact origin is debated, chili is believed to have originated in the early 19th century in the region that is now the American Southwest. The dish evolved as a fusion of Indigenous, Spanish, and Mexican culinary traditions.

One popular theory suggests that a group of Canary Islanders, who migrated to San Antonio in the 1700s, brought with them a spicy stew called “chili.” Another theory attributes the dish to Mexican immigrants in the Texas region, adapting their traditional meat and spice stews.

Chili gained popularity in the late 1800s as a cheap and filling food for cattle drivers and pioneers. It became a staple in American culture, especially in the Southwest, where chili cook-offs and competitions began to emerge.

In the early 20th century, canned chili con carne hit the market, further spreading the dish’s popularity. Chili became associated with a sense of regional identity and pride, with various areas claiming to have the best and most authentic recipes.

Today, chili has diversified with countless variations, including vegetarian and vegan versions. It remains a beloved comfort food, enjoyed across the United States and beyond, with annual chili cook-offs and festivals celebrating its flavorful history.

My Favorite Coffee Mug

coffee mug

My Reflection on Chili

After about two weeks of requests to make chili, I finally decided to give it a shot. However, I was a bit hesitant since I had never made vegan chili before. The last time I made chili, I was still eating meat, and cooking without it can be quite different.

I ended up going to the local health food grocery store to buy the ingredients, but in hindsight, I wouldn’t recommend it. I could have gotten everything at Target and saved about $10. Also, I used to avoid canned food because of the aluminum, but as I get older, I find myself getting lazier.

It is what it is (lol).

The chili turned out so amazing that the next day, I added more tomatoes and beans to make sure there was enough for seconds.

Enjoy this recipe—it’s definitely the best vegan chili I’ve ever had. For my fellow vegetarians, feel free to add cheese and sour cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 bell pepper, diced (any color)
  • 1 zucchini, diced (optional)
  • 1 carrot, grated (optional)
  • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Plant based “ground beef” of your choice.  

Instructions:

  1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced onions and garlic, and sauté until onions are translucent. If you are going to add plant-based meat, go ahead and brown them in a different pan. If you are using dehydrated plant based meat if you do not have to do this. 
  2. Add bell pepper, zucchini, and grated carrot. Cook for about 5 minutes until vegetables are slightly softened.
  3. Add black beans, kidney beans, bay leaves diced tomatoes, corn, vegetable broth, and tomato paste to the pot. Stir well.
  4. If you are using dehydrated plant based meat, add now. 
  5. Season with chili powder, cumin, paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste preferences. I like to add jalapeños and Serrano  peppers, but I like spicy food. This is where you can add your plant based meat.  
  6. Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
  7. Serve the vegan chili hot, garnished with your favorite toppings such as avocado, cilantro, green onions, or vegan sour cream.

Enjoy your delicious vegan chili!

You can always make this ahead and warm it up for mealtime. I think it taste better with time. 

At no extra cost to you, some or all of the products featured below are from partners who may compensate us for your click. It’s how we make money. This does not influence our recommendations or editorial integrity, but it does help us keep the site running.