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Heidi Swanson's Vegetarian Chili

This recipe makes an enormous pot of chili, at least enough to feed 12 people. It would be great on a buffet at a big winter party. I used my 7 1/4 quart Dutch oven. Half a recipe would feed most families with ample leftovers, but I suspect it also freezes well.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 poblano peppers, diced
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon peeled, grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 10-12 cups water
  • 1 15-ounce can pinto beans
  • 2 1/4 cups brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2/3 cup pearled barley
  • 2/3 cup bulgur wheat
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Chopped cilantro, chopped scallions, shredded cheddar and sour cream for topping


  • Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a very large, heavy-bottomed pot. Add the onion, poblanos and shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peppers start to soften. Add the garlic, ginger, chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring, for one minute.
  • Add the chipotle, the tomatoes, and eight cups of the water and stir to combine well. Then add the pinto beans, lentils, barley and bulgur along with two teaspoons of salt and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a brisk simmer. Cook for about an hour, adding more water by the cupful as necessary to ensure that the lentils and grains get tender. Taste and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro, scallions, shredded cheddar and sour cream.
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