Ok, not to toot my own horn, but this veggie chili really is the best. My students have agreed. Best veggie chili ever. This hearty 3-bean veggie chili is packed with flavor and a whole bunch of nutrients from veggies like sweet potatoes, kale, and red bell pepper. Talk about eating the rainbow! It is the perfect bowl of comfort for these cooler, winter days, especially when topped with cashew sour cream and some fresh avo slices. If you have the time and energy, whip up some cornbread while the chili cooks. The combo of flavors is perfect. This recipe is also great for meal-prepping (and freezes well), and makes a lot of food to last throughout your busy week!

The secret weapon and what really sets this recipe apart as the Best Veggie Chili is a block of super firm tofu. When crumbled, the texture of the tofu is similar to that of ground meat, making the chili extra hearty and giving it a super “meaty” texture. It is delicious.

The Best Veggie Chili

(Makes about 8 servings)

  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-2 teaspoons chipotle powder (to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
  • 1, 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 block super firm tofu, drained and crumbled 
  • 1 ½ cups corn kernels (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 1 can kidney beans, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, rinsed
  • 2, 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 3 cups kale, washed, de-stemmed, and finely chopped

Garnishes (optional)

  • Freshly ground black pepper 
  • Avocado
  • Cashew sour cream (see recipe below)
  • Hot sauce
  • Fresh cilantro


  1. In a large stock pot, heat just enough water to cover the bottom of the pot (about ¼ cup) over medium heat. 
  2. When water starts to simmer, add onions and cook until tender, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Add garlic and jalapeño and let cook for about 2-3 minutes until fragrant. 
  4. Add sweet potato and let cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Add zucchini and bell pepper. Stir to combine and sauté another 5 minutes, or until the veggies begin to soften.
  6. Add all spices and can of tomato paste. Stir to evenly coat veggies. If the mixture is too thick to stir, add a small amount of water or broth. 
  7. Add crumbled tofu, corn, and all 3 cans of beans. Stir to combine. 
  8. Stir in 1 cup of vegetable broth (or water) and both cans of diced tomatoes. If the mixture seems too dense, add more broth, ½ cup at a time. 
  9. Raise temperature to high until mixture begins to gently boil, and then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered for about 10 minutes. 
  10. Season to taste, and stir in kale. 
  11. Add another 1-2 cups of vegetable broth (or water) until desired consistency is reached.
  12. Let simmer, covered, another 10 minutes, until kale is wilted.
  13. Serve with your favorite finishing touches and enjoy! 

3-Bean Veggie Chili Grocery Shopping Checklist:

  • 1 red onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 jalapeño
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 bunch of curly or red kale
  • 1 block super firm tofu (vacuum sealed vs. packaged in a plastic tray)
  • 1 ½ cups corn kernels (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1, 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2, 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
  • Vegetable broth 
  • Chili powder
  • Chipotle powder
  • Smoked paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Cumin
  • Black pepper
  • Salt