The “correct” way to make chili is a hotly debated topic in this country.  My family and I are not chili purists – we embrace all kinds of chili recipes so long as they are flavorful and spicy.  In my opinion, what makes chili so delicious is the combination of peppers/chili spices used, not whether or not there’s meat in it.  

This vegetarian rainbow chili recipe delivers in both flavor and spice level.  The ancho chilis provide the deep red color and smoky flavor most people associate with chili, and the variety of peppers used makes this dish both colorful and healthy.  

Looking to tone down the spice level of your chili?  This recipe easily adapts to a more mild white bean chili by swapping the dried ancho chilis for 4 oz of salsa verde or mild green chilis.  Simply omit step 1 of the recipe and add the salsa verde or mild green chilis with the beans in step 4.  


  • 2 dried ancho chilis
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 handfuls of mini sweet peppers, or one red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, finely diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 15-oz can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can of navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup frozen corn
  • Optional toppings: sliced jalapeno peppers, sour cream, cilantro, shredded cheese, or avocado
Vegetarian Rainbow Chili
Vegetarian Rainbow Chili



  1. Soak the dried ancho chilis in hot water for 10 minutes to soften them.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions and saute for 8 minutes until translucent and softened.
  3. Add the bell, poblano, and jalapeno peppers to the pot.  Allow to cook until softened, about 5 minutes more.  Toss in the minced garlic, cumin, and salt and saute for 1 minute longer.
  4. In a food processor, add the ancho chilis with a couple tablespoons of their soaking liquid.  Pulse until a paste forms. Set aside.
  5. Add in the drained beans, broth, frozen corn, and ancho chili paste.  Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. Continue simmering until you are ready to eat the chili; the longer it simmers, the more thoroughly the chili flavors will develop. 
  6. Garnish with your favorite toppings.  Enjoy this vegetarian rainbow chili with a slice of cornbread.
Kristina Shane

This recipe is from Home Chef and OPL Community member Kristina Shane.


One Planet Life Plant-rich Recipes

Eating more fruits and vegetables is good for you and the planet.  Find more delicious OPL-recommended plant-rich recipes here.