A Heaping TBSP of Life

~ presenting a slightly currated collection of all things edible ~

Turkish Chili

First off, calling this Turkish is probably a bit of a stretch to be honest. But we’re not going to get into that!

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, one of the hardest parts for me in a vegetarian/vegan diet is getting enough protein and iron. I’m always on the lookouts for fun and yummy ways to tweak recipes to not only make them colorful and delicious, but also to ensure that I am getting all the nutrients that I need!

Bulgur is one of those grains that you are starting to hear more about, but is still painfully underrated. It’s packed with protein, has a nice dose of iron, and has a great, hearty ‘chew’. When my husband looked at this chili he asked, ‘Is that ground beef!?’ in shock, thinking that I had actually cooked him a pot of meat…the best part was he wasn’t even disappointed when he tried it and realized it was bulgur! It really adds just the right amount of ‘heft’ to the dish to make it that comforting bowl of chili that we all love – with a twist!

I garnished this with a scoop of sour cream, some mint and a lemon twist for him, and left off the sour cream for myself. It was great both ways!

Make sure that you don’t skip either of the first cooking steps, they really give it that depth of flavor that makes chili so iconic. Tomato paste, when cooked to the point of caramelization (is that a word!?) releases an amazing aroma, and turns a deep brown. Taking it to this level creates an umami effect that coats all of your veggies. Be careful though, as BURNT tomato paste is just nasty! You want to get it to where it’s starting to stick to the bottom and turning brown, but not burnt to the bottom and black. I know it’s a fine line, but if you keep an eye on it, you’ll be able to see (and smell) when it reaches this point.

I’m sure this chili would be good with a brown rice as well, however I really like the chew and appearance that the bulgur gives it. It’s also super healthy for you…if you don’t have bulgur in your pantry right now, go get some!

Turkish Chili
Prep Time
25 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Servings: 6 Servings
  • 2 large red peppers
  • 3 lb fresh tomatoes
  • 1 lb green beans
  • 1 small red onion
  • 2 jalepenos
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 Tbsp smoked papricka
  • 1 Tbsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 cup dry vermouth
  • 3/4 cup bulger
  • 4 quarts vegetable stock
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • dollop Greek yoghurt, optional
  • sprinkle fresh mint, optional
  1. Clean the red peppers thoroughly, core, and open up to lay flat. Lay, skin side up, on a large, lightly greased baking sheet. Do the same with the jalapenos. Skin the garlic and place on the sheet pan as well.
  2. Bake at 450 until peppers skin start to burn and garlic is dark brown (you may need to take garlic out before the peppers are done.)
  3. Meanwhile, bring 2 quarts of water to a boil. Once it is boiling drop the tomatoes in and let them stay in the boiling water for about 30 seconds to a minute, you want the skins to slip right off. Take them out of the water and set aside to cool.
  4. When the peppers have blackened take them out of the oven and remove the charred skin. I find it easiest to stick them in a plastic zip-lock bag for a few minutes first to steam, and then use a paper towel to rub the skin off. Once they are skinned cut them into evenly sized squares.  Do the same with the jalapenos and mince.

  5. Cut the red onion into squares about the same size as the red pepper and finely mince the garlic. Tip the green beans and cut into 1" sections. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in the bottom of a 5 quart dutch oven until shimmering. Add the onions and chopped green beans and saute until they start to brown. Add the roasted peppers and garlic.
  6. Saute just until peppers are warmed through again. Add the spices and saute until aromatic. Add the tomato pasta and continue to cook just until it starts to stick to the bottom and is smelling delicious.
  7. Add the vermouth and stir, scraping the bottom until all the browned bits are released. Add the vegetable stock.
  8. Dice the cooled tomatoes and add to the pot. Bring the soup back to a light simmer and pour in the Bulgur. Simmer lightly for 30 - 45mn or until Bulgur is cooked through. Just before serving stir in the lemon juice and salt to taste.
  9. Garnish with a sprinkle of mint and a scoop of yoghurt if desired.

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