Each year, my church hosts a chili cook off to raise funds for a worthy charity in our local area. I look forward every Fall to the fun of sampling all the delicious types of chili that people bring to share (some of the samples this year included venison chili, barbecue style chili, taco soup style chili, meat lovers chili, and turkey chili). I also enjoy the opportunity to contribute to a worthy cause.
For this year’s chili, I hoped to make a vegan chili that was so good it would inspire people to consider the possibility of incorporating more vegetarian food into their regular diet. A plant based diet is not only healthier for us, it also is better for the environment and contributes to peace in the world by enabling a more sustainable lifestyle. And honestly, with the vegan “meat” crumbles, the soy cheese and the sour dream (all vegan), there were many people today who didn’t realize the chili was vegan!!
For the particular recipe that I am sharing here, I was inspired by my oldest daughter’s excellent vegan chili. She first made vegan chili for our family about 10 years ago, while we were living in China. She uses various types of beans and also veggies such as carrots, celery, onion, and pepper. Her chili is as colorful and beautiful to look at as it is delicious to taste!
I also looked over some other recipes today, including the Forks Over Knives recipe called Three Bean Chili For a Crowd and another five star recipe called Best Vegetarian Chili in the World from allrecipes.com. Then, using these as inspiration, I made my own.
What differentiates my chili (a lot) is that I use lemon and cilantro to give it a special zing. I also add curry powder to add depth on the palate. (I also wanted a chili that had a bit less tomato than the Forks Over Knives recipe and a bit more veggies and more variety of beans than the allrecipes.com recipe.) Even with the amount of dried pepper and jalapeño pepper that it contains, this recipe comes out relatively mild. If you like your chili more spicy, start with the amount of pepper I’ve listed, and then add your favorite type of hot pepper to get the heat you desire. (For my friends who are Indonesian, Malaysian, Thai, or Indian, you would hardly be able to tell there was any spice in this at all!)
Here is my recipe, with two notes: (1) today I used canned beans, but it is quite simple to use dried beans and soak them overnight. And (2), I note that chili pairs well with broccoli cornbread. My recipe for broccoli cornbread is also on this blog (although it is not vegan because it has egg, butter, and cottage cheese).
Now for the good stuff:
One 26 ounce can of black beans
One 16 ounce can of pinto beans
One 16 ounce can of garbanzo beans
One 16 ounce can of kidney beans
One 28 ounce can of low-sodium diced tomatoes
One 14.5 ounce can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
One 15 ounce can of whole kernel super sweet corn
One large yellow onion, diced
Two large orange or red peppers, chopped
Three or four jalapeño peppers, chopped (more if you like your chili more spicy, lots more if needed)
3/4 cup carrots, chopped
One cup celery, chopped
Eight cloves of garlic, chopped
One cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice from one half lemon, with grated zest from the lemon also
Several Bay leaves
2 Tablespoons ancho chili pepper powder
3 Tablespoons ground cumin, to start (May need to add more to taste)
1 tablespoon curry powder
Veggie “meat” crumbles. This is what I used today:
Sauté together the onion, garlic, peppers, celery, and carrot. May either use a separate skillet, or use a large cooking pot if you plan to cook everything in one pot.
While these ingredients sauté (or after they are finished sautéing if you are using just one large pot), drain all the beans into a colander and rinse them with cool water.
After the beans have been rinsed, add all the beans, the canned tomatoes, and the dry spices into a large cooking pot and bring it all to a simmer. (Stir occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot. If it does stick, it may mean that your flame is set too high.)
Add in the sautéed veggies, bring back to a simmer.
Add in the “meat” crumbles, if you are using them.
Taste the chili and add salt to taste. Tonight, I added a tablespoon of salt, but I had used a low sodium tomatoes.
Based on your taste test, you may also wish to add more powdered pepper or cumin. (I personally like more cumin than the amount specified above, but I suggest that this is a matter of personal preference and it is better to start with less and then add more if you find you like it.)
Next, add in the corn, bring back to a simmer. (Because all these ingredients are already fully cooked and you don’t want them to be overcooked, there is no need to add the corn until the very end.)
When you are satisfied that the chili is done, turn off the heat and then add in the lemon juice, the lemon zest, and half of the chopped cilantro. (The flavor from these last ingredients is best when fresh and uncooked.)
When you serve the chili, garnish it as desired with veggie cheese, vegan sour cream, and the remaining chopped cilantro.