Meg Rajala’s Vegetarian Chili

Dutch oven + Winter Day + Veggies = CHILI

Dutch oven + Winter Day + Veggies = CHILI

Meg Rajala is a woman whose children I babysat while she taught Lamaze classes at the local hospital where I grew up in New Hampshire.  She contributed this recipe to a community cookbook entitled A Shelburne Sampler, which had a plastic spiral binding.  I think this is one of about 4 recipes we’ve ever made from the book, but this was a signature dish for me from high school through graduate school.  Now, people from church request it when we have potlucks.  Who knew it would come to such status?

The picture above is a double batch in a 6 quart Dutch oven.  This chili will be great if you soak and cook your own beans, or use fresh tomatoes, but it is still great if the beans and tomatoes are canned.  Don’t be intimidated by the length of the ingredient list.  It’s a really easy recipe.


  • Dutch oven or large pasta pot
  • wooden spoon or spatula for stirring
  • cutting board
  • chef’s knife
  • measuring spoons
  • large liquid measuring cup (2- or 4-cup)
  • can opener
  • ladle


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ½ cup carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup green peppers, chopped
  • 4 cups cooked kidney beans
  • 2 cups chopped tomatoes
  • 6 oz. tomato paste (small can)
  • ½ cup sesame seeds
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • ½ tsp. dried rosemary
  • ½ tsp. dried basil
  • Tabasco, dried chili flakes, or ground chipotle pepper
  • ¼ cup water


  1. Wash, peel or seed, and chop the vegetables – onion, garlic, carrots, celery, green peppers (and tomatoes, if you’re using fresh ones)
  2. Heat the olive oil in the Dutch oven, and add the onions and garlic.  Saute them until the onions are soft, but not brown.
  3. Add the carrots, celery, sesame seeds, herbs and spices, and the Tabasco.  Cook until the vegetables are almost tender.
  4. Add the green peppers, and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Add the tomatoes, beans, tomato paste and water.  Cook covered, over medium low heat, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Makes 4 (generous) servings.   We usually serve this with cornbread,  but it’s been served over rice, or with corn chips, too.  Do whatever feels good to you.

This recipe works well with variations- change up the spices, or add a can of corn, or use a mixture of different kinds of beans (say, pinto, garbanzo, or black beans).  Make it your favorite recipe, too.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Food, Recipes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Meg Rajala’s Vegetarian Chili

  1. Karyn says:

    This is SO good, Jen! Thanks for making it for us at Christmas! 🙂

What do YOU think?