I’ve tried a lot of chili recipes, tasted chili dishes at family dinners, you name it. This is the best vegan vegetable chili recipe I know of. It is the perfect combination of vegetables, chili beans, and vegan “ground beef.” I like to cook it just long enough so the vegetables are lightly tenderized without being mushy. It tastes great alongside my favorite cornbread topped with vegan shredded cheese and bits of scallions.
Prepare the Vegetables
Put about three tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and set the burner over medium-high heat. I recommend using corn or vegetable oil as these oils have a high smoke point. This means you can turn the heat up without worrying that your oil will burn, stink and become unhealthy to eat. If you’re dead set on using olive oil, make sure you use one labeled “light” because it will have a higher smoke point than virgin olive oil.
While waiting for the oil to start bubbling, dice up some vegetables. Chop the onion into small pieces. Mince three cloves of fresh garlic. Core a pepper and throw away the seeds. Cut it into cubes of whatever size you prefer. I like the pieces a little bit large to give the dish color. Red or orange peppers are the prettiest but a green one works fine too.
Decide on a Ground Beef Substitute
Once the oil starts bubbling, it’s time to add the ground beef alternative. I use something called TVP (textured vegetable protein).
TVP can be purchased frozen or dry. When I bought a pound of frozen TVP, it was a solid chunk of ice, so I covered the pan with a lid to trap the heat and melt the iceberg. Once it thawed out I used a spatula to break it up.
If you decide to use dry TVP, I recommend adding 1/3 of a pound. Add 1 1/3 cups vegetable broth because it will need water to soak up and become edible. It takes about ten minutes to cook.
Mix in Everything Else
Add the vegetables and move everything around with a spatula until thoroughly combined. Let it simmer until the onions start to look transparent. Don’t overdo it though, or everything will taste mushy. It takes 3-5 minutes.
Add the spices and mix everything together. It takes about a tablespoon of Chili Powder, half a tablespoon of ground cumin, and a quarter tablespoon of sugar. The sugar helps even out the acidity of the tomatoes. Add a 14.5 ounce can of red kidney beans and a 14.5 ounce can of black beans. Some people choose to rinse the beans before adding them. I do most of the time unless I’m feeling lazy. I can’t tell a difference in taste and I’ve had no complaints from anyone UNLESS they saw me skip this step.
Add 14.5 ounces of canned tomato sauce and 14.5 ounces of canned diced tomatoes. Alternatively, liven it up with five or six diced up fresh tomatoes.
Finish the dish off with four ounces of mild green chiles, unless you’re feeling extra spicy, and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Cook just long enough to tenderize the peppers, about 10-15 minutes total. If the mixture needs more time or is too dry, feel free to add a bit of vegetable broth or more oil to keep it from burning or to adjust consistency. I usually don’t need it because I like my peppers barely done.
When satisfied, remove from heat and serve with a bit of vegan cheese, a sprinkle of thinly sliced scallions and a dollop of fresh vegan sour cream. (Recipe coming soon!)
Serves 3-4 people. Total cook time 20-30 min. This is a very simple meal. Easy to make!