So this whole southern thing is taking some definite getting used to for me.  Born and raised in the northeast, I’ve come to love and expect snow in October…but 70 degree weather?  Unheard of.

I’ve been dying to make a big pot of chili but it just hadn’t been cold enough out to justify.

However, with hurricane Sandy blowing through, we’ve been given a dose of crisp weather.  And while most of my southern-raised classmates are bemoaning the cooler change, I’m happily embracing it!

My first move was to head to kitchen and finally throw together that big pot of chili I’d been hankering for…


Bursting with veggie meat crumbles, kidney beans and chopped veggies, this dish is not only vegetarian, but it’s filling and delicious too!

And for all you people out there with meat-loving spouses, I’ll have you know that my boyfriend happily gobbled it up without even a question as to whether or not it was real ground beef.

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Made 1000x better when served with Fritos scoops…obviously.

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All-American Vegetarian Chili (based off this recipe)


  • 2 Trader Joe’s Italian Sausageless Sausages, crumbled
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped green bell peppers
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced
  • 12 oz. vegetarian meat crumbles (I used Boca Ground Crumbles)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/4 cups Merlot or other fruity red wine
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans no-salt added whole tomatoes, undrained and coarsely chopped
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans low sodium kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat mexican blend cheese
  • 1/2 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt


  1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat.
  2. Add sausage, onion, and the next 4 ingredients (onion through jalapeño) to pan; cook 5 minutes or until sausage and veggie crumbles are warmed through.
  3. Add chili powder and the next 7 ingredients (chili powder through bay leaves), and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in wine, tomatoes, and kidney beans; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  4. Uncover and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard the bay leaves. Sprinkle each serving with cheddar cheese and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt.
  5. Serve with cornbread or Fritos!

Cooking Light’s Note: Like most chilis, this version tastes even better the next day.

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  • Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    obviously frito scoops are totally necessary!

    • Cait

      Haha – TOTALLY necessary :)

  • Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    whoops! hit submit too soon. anyways, this looks delightful. chili is THE BEST for fall and so easy to make a satisfying vegetarian version. yours looks great!

    • Cait

      I completely agree. I how easy it is to pull together…and it makes the BEST leftovers to eat throughout the week!

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More

    YUM! Looks delicious to me! I’m loving the cooler weather and being reminded just how much better I do in locations with temperature changes vs SoCal… ;)

    • Cait

      I agree…you can’t take the cold-weather liking out of the cold-weather gal! ;)

  • Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table

    Cumin and wine? Pass me a BIG bowl of that!

    • Cait

      Hahaha – will do!

  • Lauren

    I love chili but I don’t think I’ve ever used meatless meat in mine before. Definitely worth giving it a try though! Looks outstanding!

    • Cait

      It totally is – you don’t even notice a difference!

  • Katie

    Glad you’re getting some fall weather! I’ve been trying ALL WEEK to send ours down to ya. :-) This chili looks PERFECT!

    • Cait

      Yay! Thank you friend, I knew I could count on you :) And yeah! The whole time I was making this all I could think was “Even MEEKER would like this!!”

  • Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots

    yum I need to make this, now that we have power I can! Glad you got some fall temps :)

    • Cait

      Yay for power!! This is definitely a good way to use it! :)

  • Life’s a Bowl

    Yum! I doubt my hubby would notice the non-meat crumbles, a great way to combine his love for meat and my love for beans! I was just skimming through Cooking Light’s ultimate chili recipes :P

    • Cait

      Definitely give it a try and let me know if he notices! :)

  • Tiff @ Love Sweat and Beers

    Great timing – chili is a Halloween tradition at my house.

    • Cait

      Woohoo! Enjoy!

  • MigraineMe

    70 degree weather is totally chili cooking weather to me! It’s all about the activity – if there’s football or trick-or-treating, then chili seems only appropriate! :)

    • Cait

      I completely agree!

  • Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen)

    We did vegetarian chili and fritos too this Sunday! Perfect for the cooler temps!

    • Cait

      Woohoo! I love that! :)

  • joelle (on a pink typewriter)

    This looks so yummy!

    So, I’m a little behind on my blog reading — where are you living now for school?

    • Cait

      Thanks! I got to school in Rock Hill, S.C. :)

  • Shannon ~ My Place In The Race


  • Ttrockwood

    This sounds awesome! My last chili i used trader joes tempeh crumbled up which was awesome- i’ll have to this version with the italian sausages!

    • Cait

      It’s REALLY good! I like the idea of using tempeh too!

  • Rachel

    I’ll have to try this out next chili night!! I usually just saute up some peppers haha I’m a boring vegetarian :p

    • Cait

      Hahah – nothing wrong with that!