Vegetarian White Chili – Quarantine Cooking!

I believe we are in like week 5 or 6?? of isolation due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and right now heading out to the grocery store is not only our only outing, but is also something we are trying to do as little as possible.  My goal is to shop once every two weeks, but it has been more like every 9-10 days for me.  How about you? Are you shopping a lot less?

I cook with a lot of fresh produce normally, so I am trying to work on using my pantry a bit more.  I still need to get my produce, but I am trying to buy things that keep a good while.  So, onions, potatoes, carrots, turnips, rutabaga, winter squash, sweet potatoes, and even cauliflower are on my list in a rotating fashion.  But I am also buying more canned and frozen goods to have on hand when fresh is at a minimum.  Dry beans have been somewhat scarce at our local Safeway and Whole Foods, but I found a good supply recently at Sprouts.  I have been going to a different store each time to find what I may be lacking, and then working with what I get.  Definitely need to think more about what to cook based on the ingredients I have rather than getting an urge for an interesting recipe and then going out to get supplies.  Are you doing the same?

I took a look in my fridge and pantry and suddenly a white chili came to mind.  I had onions, garlic, a yellow bell pepper, a yellow squash, sweet potato, rainbow carrots (which meant I had a white carrot to use!), poblano peppers that needed to be used, cauliflower and a turnip in the fridge.  I had just cooked up a batch of white tepary  beans (but a can of any white bean or garbanzo beans would do as well), and I have some fresh herbs growing in my garden.  I also had a bag of frozen corn, and of course all my spices. All the makings were there.

I know it is a bit past soup and stew time for us here in the desert, but I try to stretch it out as long as possible!  Soups and stews are not only comforting during stressful times, but are perfect for using up what you have, and also make awesome leftovers – often tasting even better the next day or two. Also, don’t let the long list of ingredients turn you away.  I just happened to put everything I had that would work into this puppy and wanted to accurately reflect the pictures, but you can totally keep it to just beans and 2 or 3 vegetables.  Consider just bell pepper, carrots and zucchini. Or carrots, peas and green beans.  Feel free to keep it simple. You can do just a few spices – whatever you have that you like.  Don’t worry if you don’t have every single ingredient. That is the beauty of soups and stews. They are so flexible. 

So, I hope you will consider cooking up this light chili and feel free to post a pic of your creation on my Insta @healthysexykitchen !  Let me know if you have any questions or just want to vent about quarantine cooking! Hang in there and take care of yourself.

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5 from 1 vote

Vegetarian White Chili

This lightened up chili recipe is full of healthy ingredients, is completely adaptable and uses up what you have in your pantry and fridge. Is great as leftovers too!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: American, Healthy
Keyword: pantry cooking, vegetarian chili
Servings: 6 2-cup servings
Author: Kiki Simpson, Healthy Sexy Kitchen


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or oil of choice, optional
  • 1/2 large yellow or white onion chopped
  • 3-6 cloves garlic chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, yellow preferably but any color will do chopped
  • 1 hot chili pepper Seeded, if desired, chopped - I used habanero, optional
  • 1 poblano chili chopped, optional
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt divided, and to taste
  • 1 teaspoon white or green peppercorns cracked, or coarsely ground. Black pepper will do in a pinch.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder of choice I used part ancho chili powder and part aji amarillo chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano or handful of fresh if you have it
  • 1 teaspoon ground fenugreek optional
  • 1 medium sweet potato chopped
  • 1 large carrot, I used white but orange is fine chopped
  • 1/2 head cauliflower, white or orange chopped
  • 1 medium yellow squash chopped (zucchini will work, too)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth low sodium, if possible, optional
  • 2 cups water
  • 2-3 cups cooked white beans If canned, use 2 cans, drain and rinse
  • 1 cup corn kernels fresh or frozen
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup optional
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro

Garnishes, optional

  • grape or cherry tomatoes quartered
  • cilantro leaves chopped


  • Start by chopping and prepping your vegetables.
  • Heat a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil, if using, if not place a few tablespoons of water in the pot. Then add onions and saute until translucent and giving off an aroma. If you have the time, feel free to slightly brown the onions for more flavor. Do this over lower heat and do not burn the onions.
  • Add garlic, any peppers using and salt and continue to cook for a few minutes more.
  • Optional step: Make an opening in the center of the veggies and place a teaspoon or two of oil of choice in the hole you created, then add the ground spices (peppercorns through fenugreek) and stir spices into the oil until they release their aromatics, 1-2 minutes. Do not burn! If not using the oil method, just add the spice and stir everything together.
  • Add the rest of the raw vegetables (sweet potato, carrot, cauliflower or whatever vegetables you have) and stir for a minute or two. Make sure the pot is not too dry. Add a bit of water, if needed.
  • Add vegetable broth and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are almost tender.
  • Add cooked beans (or grains), corn, maple syrup (if using) and cilantro and simmer about 5 minutes more. Serve with favorite garnishes.


Feel free to use shallots or leeks in place of onions if that's what you happen to have. Even a red onion would work here.
Use whatever vegetables/plants you have.  Some to consider may be winter squash, rutabaga, mushrooms, white or yellow potatoes, edamame, tomatillos or zucchini.  Sub in a serrano or jalapeno chili for the habanero. Or use two! Or leave it out completely.
If you don't have vegetable broth, you can use chicken broth, or just water. It will still be good!
Instead of white beans you could use garbanzo beans, hominy, or even a whole grain like barley or farro or wild rice. Or use a combination!  What's in YOUR pantry?
Make it creamy by adding fresh cream, coconut milk or blending raw, soaked cashews with water to make a vegan cream. Stir these in near the end and warm together gently.

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