4-for-$20: Vegetarian Chili

When you need a heaping helping of something fast, inexpensive, and hearty, I can think of few things that fit these criteria better than a big pot of chili.

This time I tried something different — I prepared a dish with no meat in it. Although I am an avid meat eater myself, I realized there are enough people out there that dislike animal products in their food for this to be worthwhile, and this is truly a dish everybody can enjoy.

I found this recipe online and then I tweaked it to my liking and came up with some delicious vegetarian chili.

Simple, hearty, and warming, this is a great choice for casual winter parties or dinner with friends. If you need fewer servings, cut the recipe in half or you can prepare and freeze what you don’t eat.

This recipe can be prepared with ground or diced venison, ground or diced beef, or ground turkey. If you do that, prepare the meat separately and add to chili when you add the beans.

I like serving this dish with some salsa on top as seen in the video preparation of 4-for-$20, or you can prepare some fresh chopped tomato and cilantro, of which I have added to this recipe — either way it will be fabulous.

Serves: 12 or more

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped garlic or minced garlic.
  • 1 medium green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced
  • Two 30-ounce chili ready cans of beans
  • Two 28-ounce can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 to 2 jalapeño or other hot peppers, seeded and minced,
    or one 8-ounce can mild or hot chopped green chiles
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin


  • Chopped ripe tomatoes for garnish
  • Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until the onion is golden. Add the remaining ingredients except the last three. Bring to a simmer, then cover and simmer gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers are tender and the flavors melded.

Season with salt and pepper, and adjust the other seasonings. If time allows, let the chili stand for up to several hours before serving. Heat through as needed. If chili thickens too much, add ½ cup of water slowly until desired consistency

Serve in individual bowls, garnished with tomatoes and cilantro.


  • Olive oil- $.05
  • Onions- $2.00
  • Bell peppers $2.00
  • Minced garlic $.05
  • Chili Beans $3.58
  • Diced tomatoes canned $2.58
  • Canned Green chilies Hot $.89
  • Chili Powder $.30
  • Coco $.35
  • Oregano $.30
  • Cumin $.35
  • 2 Roma Tomatoes $2.00
  • Cilantro $.15
TOTAL COST: $14.60

*Spices are estimated cost from serving used compared to item bought at the time. Many of my spices I already have on hand.


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