This vegetable summer chili is the ultimate transition meal into fall. It has the smoky flavor you love of a meat chili and is made with a ton of fresh zucchini, peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes, and beans!
Vegetable chili just might be the best transition meal from hot summer into a cool fall. This summer vegetable chili is loaded with fresh zucchini, bell peppers, roasted tomatoes, and plenty of fiber-packed beans.
The secret to creating smoky flavor is fire-roasted tomatoes. Plus the perfect blend of chili powder and cumin which all add to the perfect amount of smokiness. It’s filling, nutritious, and light!
Reasons to Love This Summer Chili
After searching for the best summer chili recipe, I decided that this is the one. This is the chili that will bring summer to an end and welcome fall back with all the best vegetables and warm, cozy flavors.
- Veggie LOADED – Using seasonal vegetables in chili is the best way to enjoy the many varieties of this type of recipe. Summer vegetables like zucchini and peppers are easy to come by and available at the peak of freshness.
- Versatile – Because this calls for seasonal vegetables, once the time has passed you can easily switch out ingredients to what is in season. Try using butternut squash in place of summer squash.
- Wholesome – There’s nothing better than a big bowl of chili with family.
- Kid-friendly – There’s a bit of heat in this summer squash chili, but you can alter the amount of heat to make it a healthy and delicious recipe for the kids.
- Bacon! – Use the best bacon you possibly can. I love organic, thick-cut, applewood smoked bacon. It tastes amazing and it gives off plenty of bacon grease. See note in the recipe about bacon grease.
- Vegetables – I love zucchini, yellow squash, and bell peppers as the main vegetables in this chili. It also has jalapeno for a little kick. You can also throw in some corn, carrots, or celery.
- Fire Roasted Tomatoes – are a must in this chili! They have the delicious smoky char flavor that diced tomatoes do not.
- Beans – You will need pinto and black beans. I always try to buy organic beans (when possible) without any type of preservatives. Just plain and simple.
How to Make Summer Chili
This one-pot chili recipe comes together quickly once the vegetables are prepped. Cooking in one pot just makes life easier and you’ll love that about this summer veggie chili.
Cook the bacon – Heat a large dutch oven or a large stockpot over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon renders its fat and begins to brown.
Cook fresh vegetables – Add the onion, zucchini, yellow squash, both bell peppers, and garlic; cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes.
Add remaining ingredients – Next, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, beans, jalapeño, chili powder, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Simmer – Cover and bring the chili to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
Stir in cilantro and taste for salt and pepper before serving.
Can I make chili in a slow cooker?
Yes! Follow the steps to cook the bacon in a pan first. Then, add all the ingredients to the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hours.
This seasonal chili recipe is hearty and has wholesome summer vibes with fresh vegetables, beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, and bacon. Here are a few substitutions to this summertime chili recipe you can make.
- Tomatoes – Fire-roasted tomatoes are the best for this chili recipe, but you can use another style if preferred.
- Beans – This is a southwestern-style chili where pinto beans and black beans are a staple for this style recipe. You could use kidney beans or really mild beans like navy or great northern beans.
- Vegetables – I love summer vegetables and they’re perfect in chili. You can add or switch out any of the vegetables to your liking. Try eggplant, corn, carrots, and celery. You can never have too many vegetables to put in chili.
- Great for leftovers. This recipe makes a decent pot of chili; therefore, you can definitely keep it in the fridge for a good 4-5 days (it tastes the best the longer it sits). You can also freeze the chili to enjoy over time.
- Allow resting. Let the chili rest for 15-20 minutes if serving immediately or make it the day before to serve the next day. It gets better with a night in the fridge.
- Don’t skip the toppings! That’s one of the best parts of chili. We love scallions, cheese, sour cream, and avocado.
- Make it Vegan. Skip the bacon and use vegetable broth instead of chicken stock.
What to Serve with Chili?
Pair this veggie pack chili with bacon with a side dish to make it a well-rounded meal.
- Fresh salad, like this summer-inspired zesty corn salad or summer spinach salad.
- More veggies, because you really can’t have enough, like roasted broccoli.
- Cornbread, garlic bread, cheese popovers, or zucchini corn fritters.
- Baked fries, sweet potato fries, or baked potato.
Making a big pot of chili will usually land you with some tasty leftovers. You can always just enjoy the chili as is, or make it into another type of meal.
- Taco Salad – Build your salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and crispy tortilla strips, and then top with leftover summer chili and shredded cheese. Add some of your favorite toppings, like avocado, sour cream, or freshly chopped onions.
- Veggie Chili Burritos – Roll up this chili in a burrito with lettuce, sour cream, and fresh diced tomatoes. If the chili isn’t thick, cook down in a pot until it has thickened enough to add to a burrito.
- Chili Loaded Baked Potatoes – Stuff your baked potato with this veggie bacon chili and slather with melted cheese and sour cream.
How to Store
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days. This is one of those “the longer it sits the better it is” recipes.
Can I freeze chili?
Yes! After the chili has cooled, place it into freezer-friendly containers. You can store chili for up to 3 months in the freezer.
Meal Prep – Divide into individual serving bowls and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat in the microwave until warm through. Serve with a fresh salad or bread for a quick lunch.
More Meatless Chili Recipes
- Black Bean Quinoa Chili
- Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
- Lentil and Butternut Squash Chili
- Lentil Chili
- Prep Time: 15
- Cook Time: 45
- Total Time: 1 hour
- Yield: 8 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Simmer
- Cuisine: Tex-Mex
Loaded with summer vegetables, this chili is the ultimate transition meal into fall. It has the smoky flavor you love of a meat chili and is made with ton of fresh zucchini, peppers, fire roasted tomatoes, and beans!
- 3 bacon strips, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 12 oz. zucchini, chopped (2 cups)
- 12 oz. yellow squash, chopped (2 cups)
- 1 each medium yellow and red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (14.5 oz.) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (15 oz.) can tomato sauce
- 2 cups chicken stock
- 1 (15 oz.) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
- 3 Tbsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
- Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
- Sour cream
- Shredded cheddar cheese
- Sliced green onions
- Diced or sliced avocado
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add bacon and cook until bacon renders its fat and begins to brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the onion, zucchini, yellow squash, both bell peppers, and garlic; cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes.
- Next, add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, chicken stock, beans, jalapeno, chili powder, and cumin. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and bring the chili to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Stir in cilantro and taste for salt and pepper before serving. Just like with any other chili, this one tastes the best the longer it sits. So if possible let the chili stand for 15-20 minutes before serving. It tastes even better the next day!
- Bacon: Depending on the cut and brand of bacon used, you may have to add an additional 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil to the bacon grease before adding in the vegetables.
- Leftovers: Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Serving Size:
- Calories: 196
- Sugar: 6.6 g
- Sodium: 606.4 mg
- Fat: 6.2 g
- Carbohydrates: 27 g
- Protein: 10.1 g
- Cholesterol: 8.7 mg
Keywords: meatless, vegetarian, summer soup
Recipe originally published August 2018.
I made this tonight. So easy but definitely rich in taste. Love the Summer vegetables on this chili. I used pancetta instead of bacon (I always have it on hand). Yummy!
Love the idea of a summer chili to use garden produce in! 🙂