Thursday, 10 November 2011 | 17 comments

Three-grain veggie chili

The evenings stretch out ahead these days from such an early hour. By the time I leave the office, it’s already dark, and those wonderfully mammalian curl-up-in-your-house-and-eat-and-stay-warm instincts kick in pretty quickly.This three-grain chili fits the bill nicely on these evenings (I’m calling it three grain even though lentils are not a grain, technically. Oh well.) Chuck stirred it while it was on the stove and exclaimed, “There’s so much in there!” And there is. I find that a meatless chili needs a good variety of textures to reach that not-quite-soup, not-quite-stew grey area that chili must straddle. Millet in soups is a recent discovery and is fantastic; but with all these liquid-sucking grains, beware that upon reheating, you might need to add a bit more liquid to reconstitute it. It’s also a great canvas for any mixture of your favorite beans; here, I threw some adzuki beans in with pinto.

Three-grain veggie chili

There is a decent amount of chopping involved in this recipe, but it makes an enormous pot of chili.

You will need

    3 tablespoons olive oil
    2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
    3 shallots, finely chopped
    7 cloves garlic, minced
    3 stalks celery, finely chopped
    2 jalapeños, finely chopped
    2 cups mushrooms (I used baby bella; crimini would also work well here), chopped
    2 28-ounce cans of diced, no-salt tomatoes
    9-10 cups liquid (water or vegetable broth)
    3-4 cups beans, soaked overnight (I used pinto and adzuki)
    3/4 cup millet
    3/4 cup wheat bulgur
    3/4 cup green lentils
    2 tablespoons cumin
    2 teaspoons smoked paprika
    Salt to taste
    Greek yogurt (optional)
    Hot sauce (optional)


    Heat olive oil in your biggest pot. Add the onions, shallots, garlic, celery, and jalapeños, and sauté, stirring occasionally, until very aromatic and softening, 5 to 10 minutes. Add mushrooms and sauté several minutes more. Stir in tomatoes until well incorporated. Pour in water/broth, and bring to a boil. Add the beans, millet, bulgur, lentils, cumin, and paprika and stir. Reduce to a simmer. Simmer for at least an hour, stirring occasionally to get the grains off of the bottom of the pot, until beans and grains are tender and chili has thickened. Taste for salt, and season if necessary. Top with a generous dollop of greek yogurt drizzled with hot sauce.

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§ 17 responses to Three-grain veggie chili

  • Perfect for these cold fall nights we have been experiencing! Thanks for sharing, Sarah.

  • I love a warm hearty soup like this for when the weather turns. Thanks!

  • Thank you for this! I made a veggie chili just the other night and it was good, though lacked a certain something, and I’m eager to try again. I love millet and I love bulgur, so this is just the thing.

  • mmmm making this tonight- a perfect fall dinner AND my official first time using millet! I’ve wanted to for some time, but never got around to buying it- I love the idea of it as a chili filler!

  • Lou

    Glad you put those adzukis to good use!

  • Patricia

    Today in metro Atlanta it’s overcast, cold and I can’t seem to shake an upper respiratory infection. Something warm and spicey would be just the thing to make it all better. I found your recipe for the 3 grain veggie chili. Unfortunately I don’t have any bulgur or millet on hand, but will add it to the grocery list for next time. I’ll be using adzuki beans, pinto beans, lentils and brown rice for my base. The baby bellas will give that “meaty” flavor and texture. I like using a combination of both ground and seed cumin as well as some coriander seed in chili. The seeds seem to add something to the texture. A teaspoon or so of chili powder will also be added to the mix. Looks like the rest of your ingredients are available in the pantry/fridge. So, it’s veggie chili, jalapeno cornbread and cold slaw for dinner tonight. I’ll let you know how it turns out. Thanks Sarah.

    • Glad to hear you’re trying it, Patricia—let me know how it goes. Love that you’re using coriander seed. (I agree that they add texture—with fennel, etc., I’ll try and crush up half the amount with mortar and pestle, and leave the other half in larger pieces). Also, jalapeno cornbread sounds awesome. Cheers—S

      • Scribbles

        If you toast those coriander, fennel (or other seeds) before crushing that adds an extra depth of flavor that is very enjoyable.

  • Chuck

    I miss this so much that I’m making it tonight.

  • jessica

    i just made this tonight in cali as winter seems to have returned! (last week has been in the 90’s…)

    i’ve also never cooked with millet before, and was very surprised at the hearty deliciousness of this entire batch! i used fresh tomatoes and tomato sauce as was out of diced. used dried red chili peppers and am in heaven!

    i’m currently living on a version of your lentil and bulgur salad for lunches with a hardboiled egg!

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