Beanless Vegetable Chili

Posted on July 28, 2013


The title of this post alone might be enough to send some die-hard chili fans into apoplectic fits. Not only is this chili meatless, it doesn’t even contain beans. You might find yourself wondering why I would even make a chili excluding the two most common ingredients – it’s simple. Sometimes you just have things in the kitchen that need using up.

I had an assortment of potatoes, a bunch of kale, and half an onion that really needed to be turned into a meal. Sautéed potatoes and greens have been popping up on the menu a lot lately, so it seemed like the perfect time to try a less obvious combination. The cool grey weather we’ve had over the last few days contributed too, it got me feeling like fall. Hopefully this dish will suit your mood and help clear out your fridge as well.


  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • 4 medium red potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch kale
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or smoked salt
  • 4 cups chopped tomatoes or 2 15oz cans, whichever you have handy

Start by pouring your olive oil into a large pot. Heat to medium and toss in your chopped onion.

chopped onion

Peel your sweet potato and cut into one inch cubes, add this to the onions. Make sure you are stirring the contents of your pot from time to time, or the onions will begin sticking to the bottom. Now cut your red potatoes into one inch cubes and add those too. Now mince, slice, or chop the garlic and toss that into the pot.You don’t want to add it earlier, because it may begin to brown and get bitter.

potatoes and garlic

Add your tomatoes, give the whole thing a good stir, and turn the heat down to medium-low.

add tomatoes

Rinse your kale and roughly chop the whole bunch. I used Red Russian kale, which is usually pretty tender, so I left the stems in. If you are using a tougher variety, such as Lacinato or Winterbore, you should remove the stems before chopping. Toss all the kale into the pot, add cumin, oregano, and chili powder, and stir well.

add spices

Cover the pot and let it simmer, stirring every 15 minutes, until potatoes are cooked through, kale is tender, and most of the liquid is cooked out. It took my batch about 45 minutes to be ready. When you are ready to eat, add the salt and give the whole thing a thorough stirring.

finished chili

Serving Suggestions and Substitutions:

  • Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, or Daiya.
  • Ladle over cornbread, rice, or pasta.
  • Use carrots in place of the sweet potato.
  • Add a cubed kohlrabi in place of a red potato.
  • Use collards in place of kale.
  • Use spinach instead of kale, but don’t add it until the potatoes are completely cooked, mix in well and let simmer for just five minutes before serving.
Posted in: Cooking, Recipes