Bean and Barley Chili

vegetarian chili with beans corn and more
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Prep Time:
1 to 2 hours


  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 4 cups (or a 32 oz box) low-sodium vegetable stock, divided
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 34 cup water
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 7 oz can chopped green chilies with juice
  • 1 12 Tbsp chili powder, or to taste
  • 12 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 12 tsp salt, or to taste freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 15 oz cans of beans, mixed and matched (we used red kidney, black beans, and white Northern beans).
    • See note for alternate method with dry beans.
  • 1 cup frozen corn, partially thawed (optional)
  • Chopped onion (optional)
  • 2 avocados, cut in chunks and tossed with lemon juice (optional)


  1. In a medium saucepan, bring barley and 3 cups of the broth to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until barley is just tender. There may still be unabsorbed liquid. Be sure to watch the pot; cook times can vary drastically (ours took a 12 hour, while the package directions recommended 1 14 hours).
  2. Meanwhile, add olive oil and garlic to a medium stock pot; saute quickly over medium-low heat just until you begin to smell the garlic cooking.
  3. Add remaining ingredients except the barley, beans, corn, onion, and avocado. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the barley and stock mixture, beans, and corn, if using. Return to a boil over high heat.
  5. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, until the chili is slightly thickened (about 5 minutes).
  6. Serve warm, garnished with onion and avocado, if using.


To use dry beans, boil about 1 1/2 cups of dry, mixed and matched beans for 20 minutes a day before you plan to serve it. Let them soak in water double the depth of the beans overnight, changing water after they’ve boiled and another time during the soak if you have the chance. Cook beans for another 20 minutes just before adding to the chili in step 4.