The Best Vegan Chili

Chili is pretty much a staple dish in every household. I tend to make chili when I don’t have a ton of fresh produce lying around and I want to make use of what’s in my cupboards. One of the challenges when making vegan chili is recreating that hearty, meaty flavour, and achieving a texture similar to chewy pieces of ground beef. The flavour was no big deal; I just used ingredients packed with lots of umami like vegan Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and tomato paste. For the chewy meaty bits I used textured vegetable protein or TVP. TVP is made from soy beans which are mashed, baked, and dehydrated, and need to be reconstituted before being used for cooking. Once rehydrated they become chewy little flavour sponges that are a welcome addition to any dish. I mean anything. That’s why I always keep a few bags of the Bob’s Red Mill brand in my pantry.

This chili is among the best I’ve ever had (If I do say so myself). It’s sweet and spicy and filling, with a wonderfully dynamic flavour that will definitely keep you wanting more. It is perfect served with a warm chunk of vegan cornbread, over rice, or eaten all on its own like a hearty stew. You’re going to love it.

Since there are very few vegetables to chop, this recipe comes together in a cinch. You start by rehydrating the TVP in some water or vegetable broth and let that sit while you prep your fresh vegetables.

Next you sauté the onion, garlic, and fresh jalapeños, and while those are simmering away you can prep your spice blend.

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Once the vegetables have softened in the pot, you throw in your TVP, tomatoes, beans, sauces and spices and let it simmer away. The longer you simmer, the more pronounced the flavours will be!

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And that’s it! Perfect, delicious, vegan chili done in a cinch!

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How perfect does that chili look?

Recipe

  • 1 cup dry TVP
  • 7/8 cup water or vegetable broth
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 fresh jalapeños, diced
  • 2 tbsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chili sauce (or 2 squares sweetened dark chocolate)
  • 1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 15oz can black beans
  • 1 15oz can red kidney beans
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp each dried coriander, oregano, and cumin
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust depending on preferred spice)
  • 1/2 cup water or vegetable broth
  • lime wedges and cilantro for garnish

Method

  1. Place the dried TVP in a cup or bowl. Cover with 7/8 cup or boiling water or vegetable broth and let stand to absorb all the water. In a separate small bowl, make the spice mix by combining chili powder, salt, coriander, oregano, cumin, and cayenne. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 4qt pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion until translucent and soft, about 7 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and jalapeño and sauté for 1 more minute until the garlic is fragrant and the jalapeño is slightly softened.
  4. Add the rehydrated TVP along with the Worcestershire, soy sauce, tomato paste, chocolate chili sauce or dark chocolate, and 1/2 the spice mix. Stir to combine, then add the crushed tomatoes, black beans with their juices, red kidney beans with their juices, and 1/2 cup of water.
  5. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes. Then add the remaining 1/2 of the spice mix and continue simmering for another 20 minutes. The chili can be left simmering on very low heat for up to an hour.

I served my chili with vegan cornbread. I used a recipe by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, my favourite vegan chef, and she did not disappoint. The cornbread was moist and dense with a soft centre and slightly crispy exterior, and a delicate sweet flavour. I loved it so much, I vow never to try any other cornbread recipe ever again! If you want your cornbread even crispier on the outside, lightly grease your cast-iron pan and set it in the oven while it’s preheating. Pour your batter into the already warm pan, and in 35 minutes you’ll have the most delicious cornbread ever.

Let me know in the comments if you try the recipe!

Enjoy!

8 thoughts on “The Best Vegan Chili

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