Meatless Monday: Smoky Black Bean Chili with Caramelized Onions

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It’s a big day for sustainable eating! Today isn’t just any old Meatless Monday – it’s Earth Day! It’s also the kickoff for Veg Week 2013. Sort of a sustainability trifecta, right?

This black bean chili is perfect for a chilly spring evening, and the caramelized onions really take it to the next level. Caramelizing onions takes a little time investment – maybe about 30 minutes at the stove – but if you have the time they are so worth it! When you cook onions low and slow like this, they get a sweet, earthy flavor that is delicious in your mouth.

I know a lot of folks think Earth Day is kind of silly. Why do we need a day to care about the planet? You could also ask the same about Meatless Monday or Veg Week: why do we need a special day of the week or week of the year to eat plant-based foods, right? Shouldn’t we care about the planet and about what we put into our bodies 365 days a year? Of course we should!

The thing is, environmental, animal rights, and health issues aren’t a priority for everyone. People are busy, and by participating in Earth Day, Veg Week, and Meatless Monday, folks who might not think about these issues get a chance to dip their toes into kinder ways of eating and living. And that’s certainly something to celebrate!

If you’re new to eating plant-based foods, don’t fret! We have lots of great resources for you (and don’t worry: that chili recipe I promised is below!). Here are a few of our past articles on how meat impacts your health and the planet:

But enough about the whys! Let’s get to the delicious how! The good news is that it’s easy to make tasty, plant-based food whether it’s Meatless Monday or any other day of the week. Check out the chili recipe below, and you can find more meatless meals in our Vegan Recipe section!

Smoky Black Bean Chili with Caramelized Onions

This recipe was originally posted on my personal site: Glue and Glitter.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed, or about 4 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 cup corn kernels, raw or frozen
  • 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder, you can use a bit less or more, depending on how hot you want this to be. Consider 1 1/2 teaspoons about medium spicy.
  • 1 teaspoon groun cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 cup veggie broth, as needed
  • Toppings (optional): diced avocado, chopped onion or scallions, chopped cilantro, vegan yogurt or sour cream, chopped fresh tomato, toasted pumpkin seeds

Cooking Directions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil on medium low, and add onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 20-30 minutes, until the onions begin to caramelize.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (except the broth and toppings), and stir to combine. Cover the pot and cook on medium low, stirring occasionally, for 20-30 minutes more, adding broth 1/4 cup at a time if things get dry.
  3. Serve with whatever toppings you choose!

Image Credit: photo by Becky Striepe

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