Three-Bean Chili


When I first started dabbling in vegetarian cooking early in my college years, one of my staple recipes was vegetarian chili (and by staple, I mean it was eaten every day most days of the week for quite some time). Chili is traditionally made with ground meat, kidney beans, tomatoes, and lots of spice. While experimenting with turning traditionally meat-laden recipes into plant based alternatives, I’ve found that spice and texture are super important and highly underrated characteristics of a meal. From the crunch of garbanzo beans and corn, to the smoother black and kidney beans and chewy rice or farro, this dish ticks all of my texture boxes. Coupled with warm, savory, and slightly acidic flavors from chili, cumin, onion, and tomato, and I am confident you won’t miss the meat in this Three-Bean Chili.

From a nutritional standpoint, this dish packs plenty of fiber, protein, and vitamins/minerals to keep you full until your next meal (or in my poor college years, until my next bowl of chili)! It’s also an extremely affordable dish at less than $10 to feed a family of 5. It keeps well in the fridge and I often make a large pot on Sundays to portion out for the week’s lunches. Below are some of the nutrients you’ll get from the legumes in this dish.

Black beans – iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B6, a whopping 29 grams of fiber and 39 grams of protein in 1 cup

Kidney beans – iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, a whopping 43 grams of protein and 46 grams of fiber in 1 cup

Garbanzo beans (chickpeas) – iron, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, magnesium, a whopping 39 grams of protein and 35 grams of fiber in 1 cup

Still think all vegans are protein and iron deficient? Think again! It’s virtually impossible to become protein deficient while eating a varied whole-foods plant-based diet. This all relates back to the protein myth – that we are trained from a young age to believe quality protein only comes from animal products, and that a diet lacking in animal products will lead to a terrible deficiency. Even better, the protein and amino acids we consume from plant-based foods are not accompanied by the harmful saturated fat and cholesterol we find in animal proteins.

Three-Bean Chili

Time: 30 minutes (or 3 hours if you choose slow cook method)

Difficulty: Easy

What you’ll need: large pot or crock pot

Serves: 5-6


  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans diced roasted tomatoes with green chiles (or plain if you don’t like the chiles)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quick farro (could use rice but I recommend cooking rice separately)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 cup veggie stock and 1 cup water
  • Optional chili toppings: vegan cheese, vegan sour cream, lime wedges, diced onion, cilantro


  • This recipe can be prepared quickly in a large pot, or if you have the time and want your house to gradually smell delicious, in a crock pot. Results will be very similar, so if you are pressed for time just prepare it in a large pot!
  • On medium heat, saute onion and garlic in olive oil or veggie stock, cook until translucent
  • Add tomatoes, all beans, and corn
  • Add spices and stir well
  • Stir in farro with veggie stock and water
  • Cover and turn heat down to low, cook for 15-20 minutes until farro is soft but lightly chewy
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Serve with or without your favorite chili toppings


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