Butternut Squash Chili (Vegetarian Chili Recipe)
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili
Nothing screams fall like a hearty bowl of chili.
The blend of chiles, spices, meat, and vegetables is a family favorite, we love to make the moment the weather turns cool.
Although we love meaty chilis, I’ve discovered making vegetarian chili for groups is the way to go. Our vegetarian and vegan friends are happy, and the meat-eaters won’t even miss the meat in the veggie chili, if it’s well made.
Today’s amazing Vegetarian Chili Recipe is bold and rustic with chunks of butternut squash, peppers, beans, and corn. It can be made on the stovetop or in a slow cooker!
Three Sisters Chili Recipe
“The Three Sisters” in the title is derived from an old tale about Mexican and Navajo gardening culture… Corn, beans, and squash grow best when planted together.
The corn stalks offer support for the other crops. The beans pull in nitrogen from the air to benefit the soil. And the big squash leaves protect the soil to keep it moist and prevent weeds.
The Mexicans and Navajos believe that because these vegetables grow well together, they pair well together in recipes as well. We totally agree!
Squash Chili Recipe
This vegetarian chili is hearty and filling. Made with fresh harvest produce that was meant to be together, you certainly won’t leave the dinner table feeling hungry.
Imagine sitting by a fire, wrapped in a chunky woven blanket, in perfect crisp 55 degree weather. Then someone hands you a big bowl of Three Sisters Butternut Squash Chili, colorful, aromatic, and steaming hot.
It sounds picture-perfect, right?
No matter where you’re seated, we believe you’ll enjoy these flavors so reminiscent of fall.
Three Sisters Butternut Squash Chili
- Butter – To saute the vegetables and provide richness. However, you can use olive oil in the recipe to make vegan chili.
- Sweet Onion and Garlic Cloves– For deep zesty flavor.
- Poblano Peppers – For smoky flavor and mild spice.
- Butternut Squash – Sister #1. Soft, sweet, and a great thickening agent in the chili.
- Red Kidney Beans – Sister #2. Or pinto beans, to fill out the chili and provide texture. (15-ounce cans)
- Corn – Sister #3. To offer sweetness and pop in the recipe.
- Crushed fire-roasted tomatoes – Or diced tomatoes, for a hearty tangy note.
- Vegetable broth – Smooth and flavorful.
- Green chiles – To bring the heat. You can use mild or hot chiles.
- Ground cumin – Smoky essence. Just a tablespoon.
- Dried oregano – For deep herbal sweetness.
- Bay leaf – Creates balance in the soup.
- Cilantro – To add freshness at the end.
- Salt and Pepper – Can you cook a good meal without it?
How To Make Vegetarian Chili
- Prep and chop all the produce. Cut the butternut squash in half, then peel with a vegetable peeler. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard them. Chop into even 1/2-inch cubes.
- Sauté the veggies. Set a large sauce pot/dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions, chopped poblano peppers, and minced garlic. Sauté to soften. Add in the cubed butternut squash, rinsed beans, tomatoes, broth, green chiles in juices, corn, and all spices. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, but save the cilantro for later.
- Simmer. Simmer the chili until the squash is fork-tender, stirring occasionally. Then uncover and simmer for another 5 minutes to thicken. Once the squash is fork-tender, remove the bay leaf. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed.
- Stir in the cilantro and serve alongside your favorite cornbread or tortilla chips. You can even sprinkle some cheese on top if you wish.
Get The Full (Printable) Three Sisters Butternut Squash Chili/Best Vegetarian Chili Recipe Below!
Crockpot Easy Vegetarian Chili Recipe
On the go? You can make Three Sisters Chili in the crockpot!
- Sauté the onions, poblano peppers, and garlic on the stovetop.
- Then dump the veggies into a large 6+ quart slow cooker and add all remaining ingredients.
- Cover and cook on high for 2-4 hours, or on low for 5-7 hours.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the butternut squash not softening?
Make sure the butternut squash is cut into equal ½ inch cubes, so that they cook evenly. You can also turn up the heat if needed.
Can you freeze Three Sisters Chili?
Yes, you can! Place it in an airtight container and keep it in the freezer. Then thaw to room temperature before you reheat it.
How long does Three Sisters Chili last?
This chili will last 5-7 days in the fridge if you store it in an airtight container. That makes this a great make-ahead meal! You can also store it in the freezer for up to 6 months. Let it thaw in the fridge overnight and warm up the whole lot in a sauce pot or a single serving in the microwave.
Can I make this soup in the crockpot?
Of course! The directions for the crockpot version of Three Sisters Chili are included in the recipe below.
More Fabulous Chili Recipes
- Pumpkin Chili Recipe
- The Best Beef Chili Recipe
- Roasted Red Pepper Chicken Chili
- Zesty Turkey Chili Recipe
- New Mexican Chile Verde
- Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Dip Recipe
Check the printable recipe card below for the nutrition information calories, carbohydrates, protein, potassium, fiber, vitamin c, and calcium percentages.
Three Sisters Butternut Squash Chili Recipe
- ¼ cup butter (olive oil for vegan)
- 1 large sweet onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
- 5-6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 whole butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
- 3 – 15 ounce cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 28 ounce can crushed fire roasted tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 13.5 ounce canned chopped green chiles, mild or medium
- 10 ounces frozen corn, or fresh
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ cup chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper
- Prep and chop all the produce. Cut the butternut squash in half, then peel with a vegetable peeler. Scoop out the seeds with a spoon and discard. Chop into even 1/2 inch cubes.
- Set a large 7-8 quart saucepot over medium heat. Add the onions, chopped poblano peppers, and minced garlic. Sauté for 5 minute to soften.
- Add in the cubed butternut squash, rinsed beans, tomatoes, broth, green chiles in juices, frozen corn, and all spices. Add 1 teaspoon of salt, but save the cilantro for later.
- Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then uncover and simmer another 5 minutes to thicken. Once the squash is fork-tender, remove the bay leaf. Taste, then salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the cilantro and serve.