Hearty Vegan Mushroom, Bulgur, & Bean Chili

Hearty Vegan Mushroom, Bulgur, & Bean Chili | The Full Helping

Happy Tuesday, all!

I’m well behind Superbowl Sunday in posting this chili recipe, but no matter: giant pots of vegan chili are one of my favorite staples to batch cook and keep around, especially during the winter months. I scoop chili over rice, serve it with my favorite whole grain vegan cornbread, use it to stuff tacos, and pile it onto baked sweet potatoes. As far as leftovers go, it doesn’t get much more versatile than that.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m actually getting a little tired of my usual chili ingredients—mostly beans and sweet potato or squash, sometimes my favorite chick’n soy curls. This week, I decided to try using bulgur, which I’ve seen used in vegan cookbooks for a long, long time, and which happens to be one of my favorite grains to keep around.

For protein and meaty texture, I did use beans as usual, but I also departed from tradition and added a lot—a whole pound—of chopped mushrooms.

Hearty Vegan Mushroom, Bulgur, & Bean Chili | The Full Helping

I don’t dislike mushrooms, but I also don’t rely on them nearly as much as I do other vegetables. Mostly, they need to appear in soup or stew for me to gobble them down (sometimes this farro dish). I’ve been making a great effort to eat more of them this year, not only because they add plenty of texture and heft to vegan food, but also because they’re full of good nutrition (including phytonutrients that look to have some promising anti-cancer effects).

I’m really happy with how the chili turned out. I went a little crazy with add-ins as I was making it, including some frozen corn and collards that needed using up, so it turned into one of those proverbial “kitchen sink” meals. But the bulgur and mushrooms are still the stars of the show, and they deliver on texture and satisfaction both; my packed lunches of the chili leftovers have been keeping me nicely full through my afternoons at work.

You can easily replace the corn and greens with any frozen or fresh vegetables you might have. As always, you can also play around with the spices I chose here. I do recommend using the mushrooms, since they’re part of what make the chili what it is, but feel free to vary what kind you use: I used sliced button mushrooms, which are inexpensive and easy to find, but shiitake and chopped portobello caps would also be great here.

Hearty Vegan Mushroom, Bulgur, & Bean Chili | The Full Helping


  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil, such as safflower or grapeseed
  • 1 small or medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), chopped
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts, chopped
  • 1 lb cleaned and sliced mushrooms of choice (I like button, baby bella, or shiitake)
  • 2/3 cup bulgur wheat (substitute quinoa for a gluten-free version)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked kidney, pinto, or black beans (1 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 28- ounce can fire-roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried mustard powder or 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • Optional: 2 cups diced/chopped frozen or fresh vegetable add-ins of choice (I used 1 cup frozen chopped collards and 1 cup frozen yellow corn kernels, defrosted according to package instructions)
  • For topping: chopped green onion tops,diced avocado, crumbled corn chips, crumbled tempeh bacon, etc.


  • Heat the oil over medium high heat in a large pot. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion, pepper, green onion, and mushrooms. Cook the vegetables, stirring often, until the mushrooms are tender and have released their juices (12-15 minutes).
  • Add the bulgur, beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, chili powder, smoked paprika, dried mustard, cumin, salt, and broth to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the bulgur (or quinoa) is cooked through. If adding vegetables, uncover the pot and add them after 10 minutes. Taste the chili and adjust salt as needed. Serve, with corn chips, avocado, chopped green onion tops, or any other toppings you enjoy!


*For a no oil version, substitute a few tablespoons broth or water.

Hearty Vegan Mushroom, Bulgur, & Bean Chili | The Full Helping

I have to admit, I haven’t yet tried the quinoa version, but since quinoa and bulgur have similar cooking times, I think it’ll work just fine. If you happen to give it a try, let me know how it goes!

The last two days have been unexpectedly balmy here in NYC, and it feels like spring. I know it’s temporary, but this tiny burst of warm weather has blown a lot of wind into my sails, and I feel as though I’m engaging better with work in particular. Wishing you a good end to the week, and see you soon for some recipes and reads.

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