Easy vegetarian chilli

I was feeling a bit ropey last week so my meals were of the very lazy variety. The children had oven chips three nights on the trot (bad mother). One night I didn’t get my act together in time and poor Husband went off to play a game of hockey without having had his supper. There was very little fresh food left in the house because I hadn’t been shopping but I had to make something, I was hungry too! By the time he came back I had managed to concoct this chilli. I think we were eating it at about 10pm, that’s how behind I was.

This is a very adaptable recipe but in it’s basic form it is a staple, store cupboard standby. What is more, if you ever have a dinner guest who is a coeliac vegan, you will be able to feed them cheaply and easily.

The most important bit of kitchen equipment you need to make this is a tin opener, that’s how easy it is. This recipe was given to me at least 20 years ago by someone who said they had discovered it during their student days. I can’t say I’m surprised really.

Here are the very basic ingredients:

1 tbsp veg oil

1 onion, sliced or diced

1 tsp mild chilli powder or more chilli to taste

1/2 tsp chilli flakes (optional – I like this combination of mild chilli for flavour and the flakes for a bit of ‘kick’)

1 to 2 cloves of garlic or a squirt of garlic puree

1 tin red kidney beans

1 tin chickpeas

1 tin baked beans

1 tin chopped tomatoes

vegetable stock cube (check if your guest really is a coeliac, some stock cubes contain wheat)


Heat the oil in a medium sized saucepan and fry the onion gently.

When it has softened a little, add the chilli and garlic and fry for  a few minutes.

Now open all the tins of beans and tomatoes and add them to the pan.

Sprinkle the stock cube into the mixture and add a splash of boiling water

Allow the combined ingredients to heat through.

Serve with rice/baked potato/fajita wrap

Optional Extras….

Right, that was the very basic bare bones of this recipe. I almost always add other things. Here are some examples:

A splash of red wine after frying the onions and spice.

Extra vegetables, for example diced carrot, celery, peppers or courgette.

You can substitute or add any tinned beans, though I think the baked beans give the sauce a nice richness.

Sometimes I add some mixed herbs but what I like the most is fresh coriander. In the days when I was organised, I used to buy fresh coriander and chop and freeze any left over in ice cubes. Nowadays I just buy it ready frozen. It’s a very handy thing to have available.

When serving up, all the usual mexican style accompaniments are appropriate; sour cream, salsa etc. If we are eating this meal, the chances are the cupboards are bare so fancy additions are also unavailable. In this case we usually just add a sprinkling of grated cheddar cheese on top.


P.S. It freezes well and can actually be eaten just on it’s own as a bean casserole, I tend to thin it down a little with stock in that case.

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