The best summer vegetable chili you can imagine. Turn all the glorious late summer produce into a lighter, healthier version of everyone’s favorite comfort food! Casually vegan and totally delicious. Easy to make on the stovetop or in the Instant Pot – directions for both included below.
*This post contains affiliate links, meaning if you make a purchase, I may receive a small commission at no added cost to you.
I’m always on the hunt for new veggie recipes to feed the big kids in my life, but they have to be hearty and familiar to make everyone else happy, as well. Because cooking multiple mains for dinner is … how to put it … a big drag.
So when I spied a recipe for Summer Vegetable Chili in a cookbook* I recently borrowed, I knew this idea had legs. A few simple swaps later and a little experimentation later, we have ourselves a new winner to enjoy on repeat through the dog days of July and August.
What’s in a summer chili recipe?
So what exactly makes a chili recipe summer-worthy? Classic beef chili is a go-to for cool fall and winter nights; a hearty sweet potato black bean version is versatile but my favorite in early fall. However, chili is an ultimate comfort food, and more adaptable than we often give it credit for!
This summer chili stands out because most of its substance comes from the types of produce that really shine in July and August. Zucchini. Corn. Peppers. All this seasonal veg makes this chili fresh and very healthy!
Here’s what you’ll need to make a big batch of this chili:
- Bell Peppers: any color. Pick up 2 or 3!
- Zucchini: the ultimate late summer bumper crop! This recipe is a good use for 2 medium or 3 smaller zucchini.
- Corn: use 12 ounces frozen corn, or the kernels from 2-3 large cobs.
- Pinto Beans: 1 15 ounce can. Feel free to sub black beans or any other type you prefer.
- Diced Tomatoes: 1 15 ounce can. Fire-roasted give this chili the best flavor! You could also dice fresh tomatoes, approximately 1.5 cups, with their juices.
- Yellow Onion.
- Veggie Stock or Broth.
- Olive Oil and Seasonings: salt, chili powder, dried oregano, cumin, cayenne pepper.
- Optional Flavor Boosters: 1 Poblano chile, 1 Jalapeno chile. Not necessary by any stretch, but they do add an extra dimension of flavor and mild heat.
Don’t be intimidated, even if it seems like a long list! You should be able to grab everything in one trip to your average well-stocked grocery store.
Snagging anything at a farmers market or farm stand is a bonus. 🙂
How To Make It
Here’s the situation: this chili is so easy to make in your Instant Pot, and yes, it’s true, I’m still kind of obsessed with mine. (This size* has been perfect for us, whether I’m feeding five or three.)
But it’s equally simple on the stovetop, and really doesn’t take much longer that way – just a little more attention as it simmers. So, you do you!
Either way, you’ll want to get a little head start on chopping the veg. Once you get that done, the rest comes together in a hurry.
If you’re making summer chili on the stovetop, here are the steps:
- Warm a little olive oil, and cook the first batch of veggies and seasoning: peppers, onion, garlic, and salt. Let these cook about 4 minutes, until just a bit softened.
- Add more seasoning: chili powder, oregano, cumin, and a pinch of cayenne. Cook 1 minute more.
- Stir in the remaining ingredients: zucchini, corn, beans, stock, and tomatoes. There will be a fair bit of liquid. Increase the heat if needed to bring it to a boil.
- Reduce heat so the mixture stays at a gentle simmer, and cook for 20 minutes or so, until the veggies are fork-tender and the whole thing has thickened up a bit.
Serve and get excited!
Full Instant Pot directions are included below – basically, you’ll follow similar steps as above, but instead of simmering for 20 minutes, you’ll cook the whole shebang for 5 minutes on high pressure.
What To Serve With It
I mean, half the fun of chili is the add-ons, right!? Anything you’d like on a “traditional” chili is also great here:
- Sour Cream
- Crushed corn chips (my hubby’s favorite)
- Jalapeno slices
We love eating this with cornbread on the side. It’s also great served over rice or quinoa.
If you try making this Summer Vegetable Chili or any other recipe on the blog, please rate it and leave a comment below. I love hearing from you, and other readers will benefit from your experience!
Summer Vegetable Chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 bell peppers any color, seeded and diced
- 1 poblano chile seeded and diced (optional)
- 1 jalapeno chile seeded and diced (optional)
- 1 yellow onion peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 zucchini diced
- 12 ounces frozen corn
- 1 15 ounce can pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes fire-roasted preferred
- to serve, as desired: chopped fresh cilantro, sliced avocado, sour cream
- Add the olive oil to a large Dutch oven or stock pot set over medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, poblano and jalapenos (if using), onion, garlic, and salt. Sauté for 4 minutes, just until the veggies begin to soften. Add the chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne, and cook for 1 minute more.
- Add the zucchini, corn, beans, stock, and tomatoes to the pot. Stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then stir again and reduce the heat to medium-low. The chili should maintain a low simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are tender and the chili thickens up, about 20 minutes.
- Give everything one more good stir to combine. Taste and add a pinch more salt, if desired. Ladle the chili into bowls and serve with a sprinkling of cilantro, sour cream, avocado, or other toppings as desired.
- Set Instant Pot to sauté; add olive oil, bell peppers, poblano and jalapenos (if using), onion, garlic, and salt. Sauté for 4 minutes, just until the veggies begin to soften. Add chili powder, oregano, cumin, and cayenne; cook for 1 minute more.
- Add zucchini, corn, beans, and stock; stir to combine. Pour tomatoes and their liquid on top; don’t stir.
- Cover, seal the lid, and cook on manual/high pressure for 5 minutes. When finished, use the quick release function to vent the steam, carefully open the lid, and stir. Adjust seasoning to taste, and serve!