Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Vegetarian Three-Bean Chili

I don’t know why people can’t make chili without meat. Seriously, what’s so hard about it? Something must be, because the very few versions of vegetarian chili I’ve had weren’t so great. They were basically a flavorless concoction of every vegetable known to man thrown into a pot – I’m sorry, but that’s not chili, it’s some sort of tasteless vegetable stew.

So because I can’t find chili that bears any semblance to the version that is loved by carnivores, I had to resort to making my own. The first version of this came about a few years ago, and, over the years, the list of ingredients has grown to include chipotle peppers and dark chocolate (to evoke the taste of a mole sauce). Don’t be daunted – this is seriously the easiest thing to make. Serve it with some jalapeno cheddar cornbread (recipe forthcoming) for a really easy and totally comforting meal – perfect for a cold and icy night like the one we’re having here in Baltimore.

Vegetarian Three-Bean Chili
(makes 4-6 servings)

2 tablespoons canola oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon coriander powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 ½ teaspoons ancho chili powder
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
2/3 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)**
or 1 15-ounce can black beans
½ cup dark beer*
2 tablespoons finely chopped semisweet chocolate
1 chipotle chili in adobo, finely chopped***
1 tablespoon adobo sauce***
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
Optional for serving:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Sour cream

* The beer is optional. I like to drink Negra Modelo with chili, and I usually end up drinking one while I’m cooking; I pour a huge glug into the pot so as to not drink the whole thing.

**TVP can be found in the bulk section of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s. I’ve even seen it in small bags at my local supermarket in the baking aisle alongside specialty flours (it’s usually the Bob’s Red Mill brand). TVP is optional, but I like to add it because it adds more protein and texture, and it also works like a charm to appease meat eaters because of its deceptive similarity to ground beef.  That being said, I almost always make this with just beans and I actually prefer it that way!

***You can get chipotle peppers either dried or packed in adobo sauce. I prefer buying them in adobo sauce; you can find small cans of it in the aisle with all the other Mexican ingredients

Add the oil to a large pot set over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and cook until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, and ancho chili powder and cook for 1 minute.

Add the remaining ingredients (except for the corn). Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low simmer. Let the chili cook for at least 45 minutes (I usually let mine cook for an hour) so that it gets thick and the flavors are well-blended, making sure to stir occasionally.

Add the corn and cook for another 5 minutes. Add more salt, if necessary.
Serve immediately. (I like to freeze the leftovers as individual portions so that they can easily be reheated.)


LisaRene said...

I love hearing what other people add to their chili. I'm thinking a little strong coffee might be another unique addition.

Kathy said...

Personally, I always wonder why people have to ruin perfectly good meat chili by adding beans. ;)

roopa said...

Lisarene - You're right, coffee would be good in this, too! Maybe I'll add some next time...

Kathy - This isn't meat chili with beans in it, it's vegetarian chili. So your comment doesn't really make sense...

Karyn said...

I have a pumpkin chili recipes where you cook the dried beans in beer, then add espresso to the simmering stew.

Personally, I look at meat chili and think "How sad, ruined beans!"

Superchef said...

Should try the TVP next time..my first time here..gr8 blog!!

Colleen said...

I haven't made chili in awhile because the ones I've made have been what you described, and then you're stuck with a pot of gas-inducing yucky stew that you don't want to waste. But this recipe sounds like it rocks. I am going to try this.

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