This Vegetarian Black Bean Chili features butternut squash, quinoa and smoky chipotle peppers. For a healthy vegetarian chili packed with protein and fall flavours, you can't beat this easy recipe!
October is one of my favourite months of the year. It's also probably the month in which I always feel the most homesick as I miss out on so much North American autumn fun.
As a Canadian, October includes Thanksgiving AND Halloween, which is like a double whammy of fall-flavoured nostalgia. I always make sure to, at the very least, make myself a pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving. For Halloween we've tried a number of times to throw parties within our circle of expat friends, with varying degrees of success.
Still, autumn where I live does have its perks. Being so far up north there's definitely no confusion about the seasons, and if nothing else, there are pumpkins and butternut squash kicking around. Even if some folks are confused about whether they're food or decorations, I can at least offset the homesickness with a month full of squash-themed meals like this Vegetarian Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Quinoa.
Hold up, did you say butternut squash chili?
Yes, friends, I did. If you've never tried this, I think you'll be surprised at how well the combination of butternut squash, beans, and warm chili spices works out.
When I was researching this recipe I came across a number of recipes for pumpkin chili that involved stirring in a can of pumpkin purée towards the end of the cooking time. I was after something more substantial, though, with chunks of butternut squash that I could actually sink my teeth into.
What's in this Butternut Squash Chili Recipe?
After a good amount of research, I decided to stick to my go-to chili recipe, replacing the zucchini and corn and some of the peppers with butternut squash. I also used mostly black beans, supported by kidney beans to mix things up texture wise. Lastly, I used a chipotle pepper to bring some heat and smokey flavour, plus a pinch of cinnamon to bring out the fall flavours.
It's honestly cozy AF, this butternut squash and black bean chili. Imagine yourself eating a warm bowl of while wearing a chunky cable-knit sweater over leggings and a pair of boots - that's what I'm living in these days. Served with some whole wheat honey corn bread, you've got yourself a mighty fine autumn meal.
Tips for making healthy vegetarian chili
- This recipe might look like it's got a lot going on, but it spends most of the time simmering away in the pot.
- Get your chopping done up front, and you won't even have that much to do once the cooking starts!
- Is this vegetarian black bean chili recipe vegan? You bet it is!
- Do I need to use the quinoa? The quinoa serves two purposes. First, it thickens the chili. Second, it adds a lot of protein to the dish. If quinoa in chili weirds you out you can leave it out and reduce the liquid a bit, or replace it with rice.
- Can I freeze this chili recipe? Yup! Freezes like a dream and will last you up to 3 months in the freezer.
- Can I make this recipe a day in advance? Please do! Vegetarian chili is one of those recipes that always tastes better the next day.
Hey Nutrition Lady, what's good about this recipe?
Glad you asked, my friends.
Winter squash such as butternut squash are rich in carotenoids, a precursor to vitamin A, and are a good source of vitamin C. Butternut squash is also a very good source of dietary fiber. Don't toss the seeds! They're a great source of healthy oils including linoleic acid (polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fatty acid found in olive oil).
Black beans are a good source of folate, dietary fiber, protein, phosphorus, iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and vitamin K. A one cup serving of black beans contains 15g of fiber (over half of the daily recommended intake), and 15g of protein. The protein-fiber combination is key in stabilizing blood sugar levels, as both protein and fiber move through our digestive systems at a moderate pace.
Other hearty soups and stews you might enjoy:
Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion about 1 ½ cups diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- 2 medium carrots peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 medium butternut squash about 1.5 - 2lbs / 900g, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 2 medium red bell peppers diced
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce minced
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
- 1 14 oz can kidney beans 400g / 14oz can, drained and rinsed
- 2 14 oz cans black beans 400g / 14oz cans, drained and rinsed
- 2 14 oz cans crushed tomatoes 400g / 14oz cans
- ½ cup uncooked quinoa
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- Place a large heavy-bottomed pot (such as a Dutch oven) over medium-high heat.
- Heat the olive oil for a minute, and then add the onions, celery, and carrots.
- Sauté the vegetables for 3-5 minutes, until the onions are becoming translucent. Add the garlic, and sauté another 2-3 minutes.
- Add the cubed butternut squash, and red peppers, and stir to combine. Continue to cook the vegetables for another 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Add the diced chipotle pepper, cumin, chili powder, oregano, and smoked paprika. Stir to combine well.
- Add the kidney beans, black beans, crushed tomatoes, quinoa, and vegetable broth. Stir.
- Allow the chili to come to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes until the quinoa is cooked and the vegetables are tender.
- Serve topped with diced avocado, green onion, cilantro, or other toppings of your choice.
- Chili is one of those recipes that tends to taste better the next day after the flavours have had a chance to come together, so it's a great one to plan to make in advance.
- Chili freezes beautifully, so any leftovers can be portioned into individual containers and frozen for a busy day.