vegan three bean chili

November 15, 2010

I try to bring my lunch to work every day and I’m normally pretty successful at it. We tend to cook up big batches of dinner for that very reason and I also do really well just munching on a cheese sandwich and a load of fruit or a gigantic salad.

How about you – are you a lunch packer? Sometimes it’s hard. When life gets all crazy on you (perhaps because you are single-handedly planning a wedding…just an example) the first thing to go is often stuff like remembering to pack a lunch, getting regular exercise, or remembering to actually sleep. You know, the basics.

When those times arise, I feel super lucky to work just two blocks away from Lucia’s to-go the day-time cafe sibling of Lucia’s.

It’s about the most adorable place with a delicious, fresh menu that changes weekly. They work closely with local farmers and suppliers to offer seasonal, organic food. Amidst a constantly changing and adapting menu a few of their items are always available and thank goodness because their vegan three bean chili with habanero sour cream is a-m-a-z-i-n-g and will only set you back $2.95 a cup or $4.25 a bowl. You can buy it by the quart as well. Love.

For the first time in months, I don’t have a wedding to plan. I have my weekends and weeknights back. I have time for food and photography and blogging again and it feels wonderful.

I decided that I needed to give Lucia’s amazing chili a go and attempted to recreate it. Of course, it doesn’t really compare to the original but that’s what adaptations are about and this is wholesome, spicy, healthy, hearty, and sure to become a staple on my roster of big-batch dinners.

You’ll need a big pot for this dish as it has a lot of volume. It’s definitely got a kick to it so if you aren’t so keen on the heat then use less chili powder (maybe 1 tbsp) and consider omitting the cayenne pepper. As for beans – go wild (I know, beans are pretty thrilling, aren’t they?). You can use anything from cannelini beans to navy beans or other white beans – just use what you’ve got on hand! And of course fresh beans would take this up another notch, as would fresh corn if it were in season, so keep those things in mind for future iterations, eh?

Vegan Three Bean Chili


  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and cut into a large dice
  • 2 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into a large dice
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained (fresh, if you have it!)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • Tomato juice, as needed
  • ½ cup chopped fresh parsley (optional)


1. Heat oil in a big, heavy saucepan over medium heat.

2. Add the bell peppers, onion, garlic, oregano, and chili powder, cayenne, coriander, and cumin, and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the tomatoes, corn, and all the beans, and bring to a boil. Add a little water as needed.

4. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. You can add water or tomato juice if too much liquid evaporates. Season with salt and black pepper, and stir in the fresh parsley.

5. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, freshly grated cheese (pepper jack or strong cheddar would be good. Garnish with fresh parsley or chopped green onion and serve with salty tortilla chips.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Erica November 15, 2010 at 8:23 am

Yes- I am totally a lunch packer! For both myself and my husband. And I like utilizing leftovers whenever I can. Bakes, soups, stews and chilis are best for this. Your chili looks like a fantastic re-creation. I am a huge fan of corn in chili. I wish my husband liked chunks of tomato….I bet they make the dish just amazing. Glad you’re getting some more “sane” time now that the wedding is over!!


Holly November 15, 2010 at 10:26 am

i am a total lunch packer too – most of the time. my lunches tend to be very grab n’ go – sammies, bars, fruit, veggies – anything i can whip together in minutes. on those days when i find myself devoid of the grab n’ go items, i grab lunch. goober.

however, funny you mention this because i will be writing about leftovers, packing lunch and the like tonight on my post.

soulmates, we are.



Colleen November 15, 2010 at 1:53 pm

I am so incredibly excited to try this!


crunchy granola gal November 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm

oooh yum. i am totally a lunch packer, but lately my soups i’ve been packing have been a bit too… well, soupy and have caused some serious interior bag damage. chili might be a smarter choice, no?

your photographs are beeeautiful as always. i wanna eat this now!


emily (a nutritionist eats) November 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Beautiful!! I love how chunky it is!
I am a lunch packer, but a very ridiculous one. As in I spend a few hours on Sunday making a few meals to eat…for some reason I don’t like leftovers and work in the country (ok, Eagan) so there aren’t many good restaurant options. I really wish I could just be fine with a simple sandwich….something to work on!! :)


janetha g. @ meals & moves November 15, 2010 at 5:14 pm

MMMM.. I am really into chili. And really into your recipes. So this is bliss for me.


Madeline - Greens and Jeans November 15, 2010 at 8:03 pm

I am a total lunch packer! I usually do it the night before so I can spend more time doing nothing in the morning.


Jennifer November 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

This looks fresh and beautiful.

I’m not a lunch packer, but I’m working to change that! This makes it a lot easier with a dish like this to have for dinner and bring the next day for lunch! :)


Sophia November 29, 2010 at 1:56 pm

I love chili! Perfect for a cold night! You should really consider submitting this to Recipe4Living’s Champion Chili Recipe Contest! It looks delicious!


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