Vegetarian Chili w/ Zucchinis

Aside from a few misplaced days, the weather has been appropriately cool. I’m happy to report that this whole “fall” phenomenon is real, and not just something told to FL inhabitants to make them sad and jealous while they wear boots in 70 degree weather. Most leaves now boast a yellowish hue and I’m wearing cardigans for practical reasons, meaning: VEGETARIAN CHILI.

veg chili

This chili recipe reigns in a household of meat lovers, and not in a “this is my favorite vegetarian chili” way but in a “this is my favorite chili ever” way. My mom adapted this recipe from Emeril’s South of the Border Veggie Chili and, in turn, I’ve adapted her adaptation (wait, what?). Confusing sentences aside, this chili swaps out faux meat often found in vegetarian dishes for zucchinis. YAY, vegetables!


While this chili is great anytime, the heat from the poblano and jalapeno peppers make it particularly satisfying to eat it in cooler weather. I mean, who doesn’t want a bowl of hearty chili topped with cheese and avocados when it’s chilly out? AHH, CHILI/CHILLY (!!!).


My mom usually forgoes the peppers, but I’m really into spicy fare (I once ordered Indian food “Indian hot” and it was the best/worst meal experience of my life) so I decided to stick with the recipe on that regard. You can adjust the heat accordingly, though.

peppers 2

poblano innards

I really love the overall ease of this recipe. All the ingredients are accessible, and you’ll likely have most of them on hand already. It yields a lot of chili for very little $$$ so you can A) eat bowl after bowl of it, B) share it, C) freeze it for later. You can also top it with whatever you like! I’m not a fan of sour cream so I usually opt for avocados (always), green onions, cheddar, and tortilla chips.

chili time

Let’s do this!

Vegetarian Chili w/ Zucchinis

Adapted from my mom’s adaptation of Emeril’s South of the Border Veggie Chili with Fixins.

olive oil

salt & pepper

2 1/2 cups diced yellow onions

1 poblano pepper, seeded & chopped

3/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1-2 jalapenos, seeded & minced

2 tablespoons minced garlic

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon Emeril’s Southwest Essence

1 teaspoon ground cumin

12 ounces canned crushed tomatoes (or 1 large can)

5 cups vegetable stock

2 cups kidney beans, drained

4 cups diced zucchini, cut into 1/2″ pieces

mise en place

Preheat oven to the broil setting.

In a large pot, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and saute the onions, poblano and red peppers until soft over medium-high heat (~6 minutes). Next add the jalapenos, garlic, chili powder, Southwest Essence, cumin, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and cook for 2 minutes. Incorporate the tomatoes and stock, bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the beans and continue simmering for 30-40 minutes.

While the chili is simmering, toss zucchini with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, a pinch of black pepper, and transfer to a large baking sheet. Broil the zucchini until its edges are golden, ~5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and allow zucchini to cool while the chili is simmering away.

Once the chili has simmered for ~40 minutes, add the broiled zucchini and cook for 10 more minutes. Taste and tweak seasoning, if needed.

Serve chili hot, with any toppings you like!

Note: this recipe is best made a day in advance (so all the flavors have time to hang out and fully develop).

ready to go!

It’s going to be a fine October, I can feel it. So can the glow-in-the-dark skeleton hanging in our backyard.