vegetarian thai quinoa chili

Vegetarian Thai Quinoa Chili

I am sick.

Like full on, snot factory, can’t sleep enough, death-warmed-over kinda sick. I should have known it was going to happen. I almost always get sick after traveling. My immune system is no match for the bevvy of germs floating around airports and on airplanes.

I just wish I could shake this so I could have more energy. I’ve been on kitchen hiatus for the past few weeks and I am itching to get back in there. I have so many fun, creative things I want to whip up in the kitchen but all my body wants to do is pass out on the couch in front of a million episodes of the Vampire Diaries.

I did manage to scrounge up enough mojo to whip together this chili. And it was totally worth it. I know chicken noodle soup is the standard fare for sickies, but I think chili is a perfect candidate, too. Still warm and comforting like chicken noodle soup, but also packed with a dose of spiceβ€”which is great for clearing out the sinuses.

I especially love this one because it is so bursting with flavor and spice that it’ll break through even the most virus-dulled tastebuds. Few things are more frustrating than working hard on a dish while you’re sick and taking the first bite and….nothing. No flavor at all. That was not the case with the first bite of this chili.

Let’s talk about all the goodness in this bowl.

The quinoa in this vegetarian chili serves as a chewy and bulky substitute for meat while providing a hefty amount of your daily dose of magnesium and fiber. The traditional chili flavor is given an interesting twist with a dose of sweet coconut milk and curry paste. The dark red kidney beans are packed with free-radical fighting polyphenols. Basically, this chili is all that is right and good about how to fuel your body. It was a great dish to help start off 2012 in a clean and healthy manner.

Now if I could just get rid of this bloody cold…

Vegetarian Thai Quinoa Chili

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour

Makes: 8-10 servings


  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, divided
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup light coconut milk
  • 1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Sliced green onions, for serving
  • Plain Greek yogurt, for serving


  1. In a large dutch oven or soup pot, whisk together the chili powder, curry paste, cumin and a few tablespoons of broth over medium-low heat until smooth.
  2. Add in onion, green pepper, garlic, sweet potato and olive oil and saute for 5-7 minutes or until veggies are tender.
  3. Add in remaining broth, beans, quinoa, coconut milk, tomatoes, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for about an hour, or until flavors are melded and quinoa is cooked.
  4. Serve topped with sliced green onions and plain Greek yogurt.

What’s your favorite food to eat when you have a cold?


  1. says

    This recipe looks amazing – I just pinned it, and I want to make it pronto!

    I hope you start to feel better soon! I like soup when I have a cold, but I always crave cold carbonation when I am sick and end up with a super-sized pop – the least nutritious and healing drink out there!

  2. says

    I hope you feel better soon! It sucks being sick <3

    This chili looks amazing πŸ˜€ I love that you added coconut mylk.

    Whenever I start feeling a cold coming on, I eat a lot of green smoothies, steamed veggies, and fruits like apples, oranges, and bananas. I cut out sugars and eat small amounts of grains. No starving, I just eat mostly produce. It sounds extreme, but I only have to do it for 1 or 2 days and my cold is gone πŸ˜‰

    • Erika A says

      Hooray for dark green veggies! I like putting kale in homemade chicken soup, that seems to be a winning combo for warding off colds around my house.

  3. Athena says

    This chili looks amazing. Next time I make chili, I’ll have to give this one a go. Hope you feel better soon. I had the nastiness on Christmas. :-(

  4. says

    As soon as I read this I put all the ingredients (that I didn’t already have at home) in my online shopping cart and am having them delivered tomorrow. Can’t wait to try it. I’m always looking for good quinoa recipes and this seems like an unexpected, fun way to use it!

  5. Erika A says

    Oh man, so sorry to hear you have a bad cold. Feel better soon! That chili looks awesome, though. I showed it to the manfriend (he’s a big fan of both Thai food and Chilies) and it got the thumbs up. I picked up some curry paste yesterday and hope to cook this recipe over the weekend!

  6. Sarah Solberg says

    I’ve been down with a cold too, and when I saw your post I just had to make this! My fiance and I cooked it up last night, and it is delicious!! Thank you so much for your amazing recipe and its healing powers!!

  7. Amy says

    I am making this tonight. It’s a rainy summer day, but any day is good for chili in my book. Thanks for the great recipes!

  8. Vienna says

    This was so fun to make! I simmered it 45 min and I probably should have stopped at 30 because I didn’t have much liquid left as I would have liked. I quadruped the amount of curry paste to my taste, and I agree with the other commenter to top it off with a dash of chili sauce. So excited for my lunches this week! (i.e. this chili :))

  9. says

    I saved this recipe months ago but just made it for the first time tonight. I decided to stop by and tell you how much we enjoyed it! I’ve been looking for more vegetarian dishes to make and this one will definitely get added to future meal plans.

    Slight modifications: I used a full can of coconut milk, a full 1 cup of quinoa, 2 tsp curry paste, and only 2 cans of kidney beans. I also didn’t peel the sweet potato (might as well leave the nutrients!). I couldn’t tell while eating the chili that the skin was still on there, so it cooked up nicely.

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