Share now or save for later

This recipe is shared with permission from Gemma Russell, Head Chef at Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre. I visited Suryalila for a press trip but I was not obliged to blog about their cookbook or recipes. This post also contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I will receive a small commission fee at no extra cost to you.

Brimming with black beans, sweetcorn and red bell peppers with ancho chillies for a subtle spicy kick, this vegetarian chilli doesn’t just taste amazing – it’s also pretty good for you too!

A bowl of veggie chilli topped with sour cream, cheese and coriander, next to bowls of guacamole, soured cream and cheese.

When it comes to veggie takes on traditionally meaty meals, there aren’t many dishes more up to the challenge than chilli con carne. Although it translates literally to ‘chilli with meat’, many believe chilli con carne actually tastes better made using vegetables alone. After polishing off the veggie chilli I made recently, I am among the converted.

Velvety black beans, crunchy sweetcorn and juicy red bell pepper in a luscious tomato sauce made using ancho chilli paste for a gentle fiery kick; I fell in love at first forkful.

While I’d love to take the credit for this wonderful concoction, the recipe was actually developed by Gemma Russell, Head Chef at Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre in Cádiz, Andalusia. You might remember reading about Suryalila’s new wine and yoga retreat over on the blog last month.

Vegetarian cuisine at Suryalila

All of the food served at Suryalila is vegetarian and organic, with most of it also vegan and gluten-free. Much of the produce is grown in the on-site vegetable and herb gardens, including organic olive oil and organic, free range eggs from the resident chickens. Any ingredients that cannot be grown or produced at Suryalila are sourced from local organic farms within a two-hour drive of the retreat centre.

Banqueting table at Suryalila Yoga Centre, Andalusia
A vegetarian breakfast buffet at Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre

Suryalila’s vegetable gardens form part of the retreat centre’s wider permaculture project, Danyadara (meaning ‘blessed earth’), a not-for-profit sister scheme dedicated to reversing the desertification caused by extensive farming by planting more trees and implementing sustainable, organic farming techniques.

Jacob, the Head Gardener and Manager of Permaculture project, Danyadara at Suryalila
Jacob, the Head Gardener and Manager of Permaculture project, Danyadara at Suryalila

While staying at Suryalila, I developed a new-found appreciation for the vegetarian diet and organic produce. Although I’d struggle to give up meat completely, I’m introducing more vegetables to my diet, eating more meat-free meals and making a conscious effort to eat more high welfare meat.

The Suryalila Cookbook

Many of Suryalila’s most popular recipes can be found in the Suryalila Cookbook, developed by Head Chef, Gemma Russell. The cookbook retails at €12.50 for an e-book or €28 for a hard-back copy (excluding shipping) and 30% of all profits are donated to the Danyadara fund. Buy the cookbook here.

WIN the Suryalila Cookbook!

Feeling lucky? I’m feeling nice, so I’ve decided to give my copy of the Suryalila Cookbook away to one lucky reader. Enter to win a copy in my Instagram giveaway. Full terms and conditions can be found here.

The cover of the Suryalila cookbook

Highlights include butternut squash curry, walnut bolognese, mushroom risotto and chocolate avocado mousse.

Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre's vegan and vegetarian cookbook

Suryalila’s vegetarian chilli

Having fallen in love with Suryalila’s cheese and nacho-topped Mexican bean soup during my stay, I decided to have a go at recreating the vegetarian chilli I found in their cookbook. If you’re using genuine balsamic vinegar, this recipe is also vegan too, although most shop-bought varieties tend to contain caramel and thickeners.

Veggie chilli simmering in a pan

Packed with black beans, sweet corn and red bell peppers in a rich, tomato sauce with a subtle smoky, spicy kick, Suryalila’s veggie chilli is not only really cheap and easy to make, it’s also bursting with flavour and nutritional goodness.

Dried ancho chillies

While this is a fairly mild vegetarian chilli, it does have a gentle fiery kick, thanks to the addition of ancho chillies. Sweet and smoky, these deep red, wrinkled chillies are mild-to-medium in heat.

I managed to source a couple of ancho chillies for around £1.80 from Clancy’s in Cardiff Market, who have an impressive selection of chillies and spices to choose from. I believe you can also find them in Sainsbury’s stores, although at £2.49 for 25g, they’re certainly not cheap.

Cooking ancho chilli paste with red bell peppers, onions and garlic

You can either grind them to a powder or pop them in a blender and whizz them up into a paste. In the case of this veggie chilli recipe, it’s a paste.

If you’re using dried black beans, remember to allow time for them to soak overnight before cooking with them. I used a carton of cooked black beans, so my veggie chilli was relatively quick and easy to make.

A flatlay shot of vegetarian chilli with soured cream, guacamole and cheese.
[socialpug_tweet tweet="Looking for #MeatfreeMeals inspo? Check out @Suryalila's Veggie Chilli, featured on @TheRareWelshBit's blog. #veggie #vegetarian"]

Vegetarian Chilli Lowdown: Popular FAQs

What is veggie chilli made of?

Vegetarian chilli can be made using a meat substitute, like Quorn or tofu. However, many recipes use only vegetables like black beans, kidney beans, lentil, sweet corn, peppers and sweet potato cooked with tomatoes, spices and chillies.

Can you freeze vegetarian chilli?

Yes. Transfer any leftover vegetarian chilli to an airtight container and pop it in the freezer. It can be kept in this way indefinitely, but you should aim to eat it within six months to enjoy it at its best quality. When you’re ready to eat it, remember to defrost it thoroughly in a refrigerator for 24 hours before reheating.

How long is veggie chilli good for?

Veggie chilli will stay fresh for up to three days in the fridge, although if you freeze it, it can be kept indefinitely (see above).

How can I thicken my chilli?

No-one likes a runny chilli; it’ll be more like a soup and we’re aiming for more of a stew consistency. If leaving the lid off the pan and allowing it to simmer vigorously doesn’t encourage the excess liquid to evaporate, there are a few ways of thickening a veggie chilli.

You could mash up some of the beans and veggies, encouraging them to release their natural starches. Alternatively, add a tablespoon of flour or cornmeal; just remember to mix it with some chilli sauce in a separate container beforehand, as it’ll go lumpy if you add it straight to the pan. Finally, some people like to thicken runny chilli using broken up tortilla chips, although you should exercise caution if you go down this path as you don’t want to end up with a chilli full of soggy tortillas.

What is chilli without meat called?

‘Chilli’ is a shortened term for the authentic Mexican dish, ‘chilli con carne’, meaning ‘meat with chilli’. While some people believe a meat-free chilli can never truly be referred to as chilli con carne, it’s become acceptable to refer to it as ‘veggie chilli con carne’ (or ‘veggie chilli’ for short) because it’s such a recognisable dish. The term ‘chilli non carne’ has also become increasingly popular.

What do you eat chilli with?

Usually, chilli is served with basmati rice or spicy potato wedges. You could also choose to serve it with crunchy tortilla chips, freshly sliced avocado or homemade guacamole, tomato salsa, soured cream, grated cheddar cheese, and shredded lettuce.

Can I cook veggie chilli in an instant pot or slow cooker?

Yes, veggie chilli tastes absolutely delicious cooked in an instant pot, or a slow cooker/crock pot! Simply place all the ingredients into the pot or cooker, set the timer and before you know it, you’ll have a hearty, healthy meal just waiting to be devoured.

Don’t have a slow-cooker or instant pot yet? While this veggie chilli can be cooked in a skillet or frying pan on the stove-top, it’s much quicker and easier to make in a crock pot or instant pot. If you’ve been debating splashing out on one for a while now, let this be the gentle nudge you need; you’ll be thanking me later!

Vegetarian Chilli Recipe

Vegetarian black bean chilli with rice, sour cream, coriander, cheese and guacamole
[socialpug_tweet tweet="Check out @Suryalila's Veggie Chilli over on @TheRareWelshBit's blog! #veggierecipes #recipeoftheday"]
Overhead shot of veggie chilli with sour cream, coriander, guacamole and cheese
Print Pin
5 from 9 votes

Vegetarian Chilli

Packed with black beans, sweetcorn and red bell pepper in a rich tomato sauce, this vegetarian chilli is made using a homemade ancho chilli paste for a subtle spicy kick. Serve it with freshly cooked basmati or long-grain rice, avocado, sour cream, grated cheese and freshly chopped coriander for a delicious and nourishing meal.
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine Mexican, Vegetarian
Keyword Chilli, Vegetarian, Veggie
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 4
Calories 370kcal
Author Gemma Russell
Cost £1


  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 200 g dried black beans
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic peeled and minced
  • 2 ancho chillies
  • 1 1/2 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 420 g passata
  • 1 red bell pepper diced
  • 200 g sweetcorn
  • 20 g ground coriander
  • 1 lime juiced
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander finely chopped
  • splash balsamic vinegar
  • pinch salt


  • Fill a large bowl with fresh water and allow the beans to soak overnight. Cook the beans according to the package, setting aside.
  • Cover ancho chillies with boiling water and soak, nudging occasionally to ensure they're fully submerged.
  • In a blender, make a paste by adding the ancho chillies, plus the water that they were soaked in, garlic, cumin, mustard, sweet paprika, ground coriander and a pinch of salt. Pulse until smooth.
  • Heat a pan large enough to hold all of the ingredients on the stove top. Heat oil over medium heat and sauté the onions until brown. Add the red bell pepper and sauté for a further two minutes.
  • Add chilli paste and oregano. Sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in the passata and sweetcorn. Bring to a slow boil and then turn down the heat. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Slightly mash the cooked black beans by hand and add these to the sauce. Cook for a further 10 minutes.
  • Check for seasoning.
  • Add lime juice, chopped coriander and a splash of balsamic vinegar.
  • To serve, top with additional coriander.


  • If you’re in a hurry, use pre-cooked black beans rather than dried black beans – you can just throw them straight into the pan! 
  • This dish works well in an instant pot or slow-cooker. Just place all the ingredients into the pot or cooker and set the timer. 

N.B. Don’t forget to PIN this post so you can find the recipe when you’re ready to shop for groceries and get cooking!

Looking for more veggie recipes? Here are some of my favourite meat-free creations:

This recipe is shared with permission from Gemma Russell, Head Chef at Suryalila Yoga Retreat Centre. I visited Suryalila for a press trip but I was not obliged to blog about their cookbook or recipes. This post also contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase using these links, I will receive a small commission fee at no extra cost to you.

Share now or save for later

38 Comments on Healthy & Hearty Vegetarian Chilli

  1. 5 stars
    I’m always looking for delicious ways to incorporate veg, this looks like a total winner. Definitely trying out the recipe 🙂

    • Oh yes, totally! Hope you like it and please let me know how it goes if you decide to try out the recipe.

  2. 5 stars
    I made big batch and froze half of it into single portion sizes to pull out easier later for lunches. Such a cozy comfort food!

  3. 5 stars
    OMG – this morning I was thinking of a bean chilli (or as I call it chilli sin carne…) and you have just confirmed I SO am making chilli – this week and the good thing is it lasts days as it is always a big pot – have entered the comp on Insta too! Love what you do with food – xxx

    • Oh wow, sounds like this was meant to be for you Sarupa 🙂 It’s such a yummy chilli. Good luck with the competition, and thank you for your kind words xx

  4. 5 stars
    I usually use Quorn as meat replacement, tofu always has so little flavour. Beans are also an option that is often forgotten about

  5. I usually eat chili con carne with meat but this veggie version really looks delicious. So I’ll give it a try!

  6. 5 stars
    This looks like such a hearty and fulfilling dish – I love vegetarian chilli but don’t have it very often. Will have to give your recipe a try.

  7. Oh your chilli with all the accompaniments looks so good, Who needs meat when it looks this filling? Mich x

  8. That looks so good! It actually looks very similar to rajama – an Indian dish with beans which I love so a little bit of a variation on it would be perfect!

  9. This vegetarian chili looks delicious and wholesome. Great that it can be frozen. I like to use Quorn or beans in place of meat.

    • I am not too big on Quorn, I used it when I was on the Slimming World diet but I’m not keen on the texture. I love beans in a chilli 🙂

  10. I often cook for my mum who is vegetarian and I think she’d really like this! I’m bookmarking for the next time chill is on the menu x

  11. 5 stars
    Thanks for this, been toying with going vegan but I have decided to try vegetarian first for a few months to see how it goes. Wish me luck 🙂

    • Good luck Claire 🙂 I felt great after doing it just for one week, but I did miss meat, not going to lie.

  12. This sounds like a great one to add to the slow cooker on a morning, then coming home to the wonderful smells of chilli when you get home later in the day.

  13. Yum!! We swapped red mince for turkey last year to try and cut red meat out . Would definitely try this and go meat free with our chilli . Looks delicious

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating