Tea Foodie [by Zanitea]

a journal of tea-inspired foods and recipes

Smoky Quinoa Veggie Chili

After a week of extravagantly eating my way through Philadelphia and New York City, I really didn’t think I would want another bite of food when I finally returned home from my fabulously indulgent culinary adventure.

smoky quinoa veggie chili

But I also missed my kitchen and that comforting feeling of whipping up my own delicious (and healthy) home-cooked meals. So after stocking up on a ton of fruit and veg for my week back to reality, I made a quick and easy veggie chili that I plan to eat over the next few days.

My favorite ingredient to add to chili lately is quinoa. Quinoa bulks up a veggie chili nicely, provides great texture, and adds a healthy and filling complete protein to the dish.

qunioa: my favorite chili ingredient

I was out of chili powder, but I had a few spice ingredients on hand to mix up my own basic (but tasty) chili powder blend. To make it a tea foodie dish, I experimented by grinding my favorite smoky Lapsang Souchong tea leaves and mixing them in to the chili powder blend. The ground tea added a nice, subtle smoked flavor to the chili seasoning.

lapsang souchong tea-chili powder

You can accent the smokiness even further by using canned, fire-roasted tomatoes for your chili base. And if you throw in a handful of semisweet chocolate bits at the end, you’ll get a hint of malty sweetness that is slightly reminiscent of a mole sauce.

This dish is likely to become a new staple in the fall/winter recipe rotation at our house.

Happy cooking and sipping!

Smoky Quinoa Veggie Chili

(Adapted from the Vegetable and Bean Chili recipe on Epicurious.com)

Makes about 6 servings


2 tablespoons canola oil

2 medium onions, chopped small

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon Lapsang Souchong tea leaves, ground

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 teaspoons sweet paprika

1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

¼ teaspoon cayenne

2 teaspoons kosher salt

1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (de-seeding optional)

2 small green (or red) bell peppers, cut into ½-inch pieces

4 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch pieces

2 small zucchini, quartered and cut into ½-inch pieces

1 (28-ounce) can of crushed tomatoes (preferably the fire-roasted variety)

½ cup quinoa, rinsed

2 cups vegetable broth (or water)

2 (15-ounce) cans of your favorite beans, rinsed (I used 1 can kidney beans and 1 can black-eyed peas)

2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped cilantro


1. Heat the oil in your favorite chili pot. Add the onions and garlic, and sauté over medium-low heat, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare the chili powder seasoning by mixing the ground Lapsang Souchong tea leaves with the cumin, paprika, oregano, and cayenne in a small bowl, and set aside. (Note: If you already have a prepared chili powder you like to use, simply mix the ground tea with 1 to 2 tablespoons of your favorite chili powder in this step.)

3. Add the jalapeño peppers, bell peppers, and carrots to the sautéed onions, and cook until the vegetables soften slightly, about 5 minutes. (Note: De-seed the jalapeño if you want less heat; leave the seeds in if you want a little more kick.)

4. Add the tea-chili powder seasoning and salt to the vegetables, and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 more minutes.

5. One at a time, stir in the zucchini, tomatoes, quinoa, and broth (or water). Bring the mixture to a low simmer, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes, stirring once or twice.

6. Stir in the beans and chocolate, and cook for 5 more minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste, and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.


  • This chili freezes well and will keep in the fridge for several days. The beans and quinoa will soak up the liquid, so just add a little water or broth to your bowl when you reheat the chili so you can thin it out a bit.


  • You can use any beans here you like, really. I love using a mix of beans; some of my favorites to use in chili are pinto, black, garbanzo and adzuki.
  • Experiment with different veggies, too. Pumpkin, butternut squash, parsnips or celery root would all be nice seasonal ways to get variety in the dish and make it very hearty.
  • Throw in a couple of freshly roasted Poblano or Anaheim chiles for another layer of smoky spiciness.

4 comments on “Smoky Quinoa Veggie Chili

  1. issuu.com
    March 20, 2013

    Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I have read stuff from.

    I appreciate you for posting when you’ve got the opportunity, Guess I’ll just book mark this page.

    • Tea Foodie [by Zanitea]
      March 26, 2013

      Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Markus
    April 13, 2013

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    • Tea Foodie [by Zanitea]
      April 13, 2013

      Thanks for stopping by my blog, Markus.

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About Zanitea

Combining a love of tea and food through hand blended teas and cooking with tea inspiration.

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