This is a comforting vegetarian meal everyone is going to love. While yes, it is a meatless version, let me tell you, it’s not lacking in any sense for the carnivores.
It’s loaded with a variety of filling beans – black beans and kidney beans, although you can adapt as needed – and has a complexity of spice. And my favorite part: the creamy tomato soup base gives it both a luxurious texture and richness.
The tomato soup is a nod to the classic chili recipe my mom would make growing up. It keeps the recipe super simple and budget friendly. But the bottom line is it also makes the most delicious chili and I won’t have it any other way!
This hearty vegetarian dinner chili is a stovetop recipe that comes together quickly, around 30 or 40 minutes. It also works as an Instant Pot recipe, and in the slow cooker, too.
So whether you’re gearing up for the big game day, making the family a cozy dinner, or meal-prepping a satisfying lunch, this is your answer! Oh, and don’t forget the cornbread!
What You’ll Need: The Ingredients
This recipe requires just a few simple ingredients but it delivers both texture and flavor. The best part is that many of the ingredients are pantry staples, and if you’re stocked, I bet you have everything you need to make it.
Be sure to see the full recipe card below for all the details!
- Yellow Onion & Garlic: both add a savory base to the chili. I recommend using yellow onion for its mild flavor so that it doesn’t overpower the chili. Use a garlic press or finely chop the cloves so that it infuses throughout.
- Jalapeno: using a fresh jalapeno (finely chopped) adds more depth and complexity in addition to the dried spices. To keep it on the milder side, be sure to remove the ribs and seeds from the jalapeno. Keeping them in will make it extra spicy!
- Dried Spices: a blend of chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper bring flavor to the chili, as well as contributes to a hint of spiciness.
- Canned Black Beans and Kidney Beans: these are my go-to beans for chili. They’re hearty and substantial, and their variety of sizes keeps things interesting. Plus, all these beans pack a protein punch. Use light or dark kidney beans, or feel free to substitute with another bean like pinto beans or cannellini beans.
- Diced Tomatoes: use the liquid they come in so the chili doesn’t become too thick.
- Creamy Tomato Soup: it’s true that it’s an excellent substitute if you don’t have tomato sauce to make chili, but for this recipe, it is the star ingredient!
How To Make Super Simple Bean Chili
This truly is such an easy chili recipe to make. Everything comes together in one pan in just around 30 minutes (plus a little prep time). And since we’re using canned beans, there’s no soaking or prep work required. It’s truly just a little saute and simmer!
- Saute the aromatics. Start with a little butter (or use olive oil to keep this dairy-free/vegan). Saute the onion and jalapeno until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and wait for those lovely smells!
- Add the spices. Stir the spices in with the veggies. Keep in mind that if you are averse to spice, you may want to start with less chili powder. You can always add more!
- Add the beans and diced tomato. Be sure to drain and rinse the beans, but not the tomatoes!
- Stir in the tomato soup. Once it’s combined, bring it to a simmer to heat through and thicken slightly.
Be sure to taste test! This recipe has quite a few canned ingredients, which means you don’t need to add much extra salt, given that they likely already have added salt (the soup does for sure). Be sure to taste test and adjust as needed…but here’s an extra tip:
Use a squeeze of lime at the end to add freshness to the chili and it enhances flavor similar to how salt does, without added saltiness!
It’s no secret that I love toppings on soups…and chili is no exception. Keep in mind that the toppings you add may alter the recipe from being dairy-free or gluten-free.
Here are some of my favorite chili topping ideas:
- Sour Cream: a cool contrast to the hot, spicy chili.
- Avocado: similarly, avocado adds a nice creaminess to contrast the chili.
- Cheese: shredded cheddar cheese melts into the chili for a gooey, cheesy addition!
- Cilantro and/or Green Onion: both are fresh and vibrant, and work well as garnishes.
- Tortilla Chips or Fritos: if you love a little crunch, both are delicious with chili!
- Jalapeno Slices: for those that like a little extra heat, add on some jalapeno slices, or keep it mild with pickled jalapenos.
Freezing and Reheating Leftover Chili
Chili is the gift that keeps on giving. As the flavors meld together overnight, it’s even better the next day, which means it’s THE BEST for leftovers.
- To store leftovers: allow the chili to cool and store in an airtight container – or multiple for individual servings. Place it in the fridge for up to 5-7 days. Reheat on the stovetop or in the microwave until hot.
- To freeze: place the chili in freezer-safe containers like Souper Cubes or allow it to cool completely and place it in a freezer-safe ziplock bag. Reheat frozen chili on the stovetop over medium-low heat until hot, or defrost in the microwave.
What to Serve with Vegetarian Chili
This hearty meatless dinner is so filling you don’t need much to serve with it, but (as always) I love some carbs alongside it. And maybe another green veggie if you must?
- My favorite is to serve chili with homemade cornbread and a dollop of whipped honey butter. The subtle sweetness is the perfect pairing for the spicy chili. This easy beer bread recipe is great, too!
- Try cilantro rice with chili, either on the side or as a base.
- Either as is, or with leftover chili, try it on top of nachos or make loaded fries. It’s also great over baked potatoes.
Make it in the Instant Pot
Yes, this recipe is super easy on the stovetop, but if you want an even more hands-off version, try it in the Instant Pot! Add the ingredients to the bowl of your Instant Pot, and cook it all at high pressure for 6 minutes. Et voila, piping hot, spicy bean chili ready to eat!
Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!
Get the Recipe Hearty Vegetarian Bean Chili with Tomato Soup
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, or olive oil
- 1 cup yellow onion, finely diced (~1 medium)
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- 1 ½ Tablespoons chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-ounce cans diced tomatoes
- 32 ounces creamy tomato soup
- Salt, to taste, see note
- ½ fresh lime, juiced, optional
- In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, melt butter (or heat oil) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and jalapeno with a pinch of salt, sauteeing until soft, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the garlic and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, and cayenne pepper until combined. Let cook for about 30 seconds to toast the spices.
- Add the drained and rinsed beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato soup, stirring until completely combined. Bring the chili to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes until heated through and slightly thickened.
- Be sure to taste test for salt levels and spice. If desired, squeeze in half of a fresh lime for added brightness, and to bring out the flavors (similar to how salt will, but without the added sodium). Serve with suggested toppings as you like, and enjoy!
- Allow leftovers to cool and store in an airtight container(s) for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop. Freeze in airtight freezer-safe containers and use within 3-4 months, reheating on the stove or defrosting in the microwave.
- Salt: the canned ingredients already contain a lot of salt, so I like to just add a pinch when sauteing the onion and finishing with a taste, as needed, along with freshly squeezed lime juice – which helps to add brightness and bring out the flavors, without additional salt.
- Less Spicy: Use half the amount of jalapeño or begin with 3/4 tablespoon chili powder and add more as needed.
- Condensed Soup: add water or low-sodium vegetable broth/stock until your desired consistency is reached.
- Instant Pot: Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot. Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Quick-release the steam and serve with desired garnishes.