100-Mile Food,  Recipes

Vegetarian Tempeh Chili

This time of year usually has me starting to crave fresh salads and anything bbq’d. However, April has been unusually cold in this corner of Ontario, meaning soup (and chili) season is still in full force. Additionally, trips to the grocery store are anything but pleasant due to COVID-19. So more often than not, I’m digging through my pantry and freezer to rustle up a meal from what we already have on hand. Consequently, the origins of this recipe are found upon chilly Canadian temperatures and the COVID crisis.

Vegetarian Tempeh Chili

For those of you who have been following along with our 100-Mile Food Journey, this recipe includes one of our new favourite locally-produced, plant-based meat options: tempeh! For those of you who are unfamiliar with tempeh, it is simply fermented soybeans that are shaped into a “cake.” One package of tempeh can easily be substituted for one pound of ground meat in pretty much any recipe. Henry’s Tempeh is based in Kitchener, Ontario and makes their tempeh from soybeans grown near Wyoming, Ontario, making it the perfect option for a locally-sourced diet.

Additionally, Cullen’s Foods distributes locally-grown dried beans, which provides a budget-friendly and considerably tastier option to the typical canned beans from the grocery store. You do have to think ahead, however, making sure that the dried beans are cooked before you use them for the chili. (A make-ahead tip is to cook dried beans in a crockpot and freeze in medium-sized freezer bags to have ready for any recipe.) If you prefer the ease of canned beans, however, that is more than acceptable.

Each summer I commit to preserving as much of our tomato crop as possible. The result is jars and jars of tomato sauce and frozen diced tomatoes in our freezer. I prefer using my Homemade Pizza Sauce rather than regular tomato sauce in this recipe simply because the pizza sauce is more flavourful. However, canned tomato sauce from the grocery store will also suffice.

Tempeh Chili

a hearty, flavourful vegetarian chili – meat-eating friends and family won't even notice that the meat is missing. Alternatively, if you really must have meat in your chili, you can substitute ground beef for the tempeh.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: budget-friendly, chili, kid-friendly, local eating, soup, vegetarian
Servings: 8
Author: JennyFeddema


  • large pot
  • stove top
  • measuring spoons


  • 1 tbsp olive oil (if eating locally, choose a local butter (Gay Lea is our favourite and within 100 miles)
  • cups chopped white onion
  • 1 cup chopped green pepper
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pkg soy tempeh (Henry's Tempeh (based in Kitchener, Ontario) is our favourite option. Or if you are a meat-eater, substitute your preferred ground meat.)
  • tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained (or frozen diced tomatoes)
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (alternatively, you can use a 19 oz can of black beans. If eating locally, Cullen's Foods grows and distributes Ontario-grown beans.)
  • 2 cups cooked navy beans (or a 19 oz can of white beans.)
  • 2 cups homemade pizza sauce (or tomato sauce)
  • 1 cup homemade vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • shredded cheddar cheese , optional


  • Heat olive oil (or butter) in a large pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions, green pepper, celery and minced garlic and cook until veggies begin to soften, about 8 minutes.
  • Crumble up the tempeh (or ground meat) and add it to the veggie mixture. Sprinkle in the chili powder, cumin, basil, smoked paprika, red pepper flakes and cinnamon. Mix well and let cook for an additional minute.
  • Add canned (or frozen) tomatoes, cooked beans, pizza (or tomato) sauce, veggie broth, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
  • Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat to low and let simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
  • During the last five minutes of simmering, add the corn and allow to cook slightly.
  • Dish up (sprinkle with shredded cheddar cheese) and enjoy!

My kids call this “a make-again meal” and my hope is that you will as well!

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