If using TVP, start by heating a few teaspoons of vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add the TVP and toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Toasting the TVP will give the texture a bit more of a bite and keep it from getting at all soggy. Bring 1 cup of water or vegetable broth to a boil and pour over the TVP. Set aside.
In a large stockpot, heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for about 2 minutes. Next add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeno (if using), chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper and allow to cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, soaked TVP or vegan ground meat (if using), carrots, and bell pepper. Cover and turn down heat. Simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the beans, corn, and zucchini and simmer uncovered for an additional 30 minutes.
Adjust seasoning to taste and serve with rice or pasta and top with vegan sour cream, if desired.