For many years I have made it my tradition to whip up a batch of homemade chili on the first cold day of the fall season, ie. it dips below 60 and the stove is fired up! A random factoid that I just came across– did you know that Chili is the official food dish of Texas? Yep, it’s a real Texas proclamation. Having grown up in the Lone Star State, my affinity for the spicy delicacy now makes perfect sense.
When I first began making chili I incorporated ground beef. I’ve never been a huge meat eater. Even as a child, my entire family would feast on steak and potatoes. I was happy with the potatoes and salad. But, when I made chili, it had ground beef.
Several years ago, I ditched the ground beef all together and my chili was beans, corn and tomatoes. I don’t use any other vegetables because then it just becomes a stew.
When I went to make my chili this season I really wanted that “beef” texture back. There’s a brand of meat substitute called “Gardein” that we’ve started eating as a family. It’s very good! I’m amazed at how companies such as “Beyond Meat” and “Gardein” have mastered the flavor and texture of meat, while not going too crazy with soy, salt and sugar.
For the purposes of this recipe I’m going to share how I made the chili earlier this week. I posted something on my Instagram Stories about this, and received SO MANY messages asking for the recipe. Ask and you shall receive.
I will warn you that I don’t cook off recipes. Like music, if I cook something at least once using a recipe, it sticks with me and forever becomes a constant evolution of mentally piecing together my own version. So, the only downside is… this won’t be a perfect science and may take some trial and error on your end.
Let’s begin with this: I always cook chili with a glass of red wine. For me, not the pot. Only exception is years when I’ve been pregnant. But then again, there’s a magical alcohol removed wine company called “Fré” that’s pretty fantastic. I like my glass of red wine, good tunes blasting and the aromas of chili! It gives me all the feels!
Gathering your ingredients for this VEGAN CHILI:
- 1 Large Can of Diced Tomatoes (the super big one at the grocery store)
- 1 Can of Tomato Paste
- 1 Yellow Onion (you can use store-bought chopped onion, or chop it yourself. I’d say you’ll want about 1/2 cup – 1 cup of onion depending on your taste. Not the entire onion, unless that’s your jam.)
- Garlic (you can use store-bought minced garlic, or chop up garlic gloves. Liken it to about 2 tablespoons of garlic once minced/ chopped. I would avoid garlic powder. Mainly because the strength of the taste, and the smell of the garlic & onions simmering on the stove is part of the EXPERIENCE of cooking.)
- Olive Oil
- Vegan Beef Crumbles (I use Gardein brand for this)
- Shredded Cheese (vegan or regular)
- Corn Chips (Fritos brand or similar)
- 1 Can Black Beans
- 1 Can Kidney Beans
- 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
- 1 Can Corn (try to purchase low sodium of all the above)
- Spices: salt, pepper, cumin, chili seasoning, oregano… you can use red pepper or cayenne pepper if you like the spice. I used to use a lot of cayenne, but now with little kids, I’m avoiding the spice for a few years.
- Stock Pot or a large Pasta Pot.
- Begin by drizzling a little Olive Oil on the bottom of your pot.
- Add in chopped onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes
- Add in minced garlic. Cook another 2-3 minutes, or until onion & garlic is soft, fragrant, yet not burnt.
- Pour in your large can of diced tomatoes and stir.
- Pour in a glass of tap water (8-12oz) and stir.
- Add your can of tomato paste and stir.
- Allow the garlic, onion, tomatoes and water to simmer on medium-high (just below a boil) for a few minutes. This is a time when your chef’s intuition comes in.
- While this simmers open your cans of beans and corn. Put them all into a large coriander (strainer) and rinse in cool water. Drain well.
- Slowly add your beans and corn into the pot. Do this slowly with a large spoon so you don’t splash hot sauce all over yourself. (it hurts!)
- Add a glass, or multiple glasses, of water to the mixture. Another moment when your chef’s intuition will play a role in this recipe. You want to cover the ingredients in the pot, but not drown them.
- Time to season! This is where I start adding in a splash of this and that. It’s all off instinct and experience… salt, pepper, cumin, chili seasoning, oregano, and cayenne or red pepper if desired. I always start with a little bit, and I add a little bit more again and again throughout the cooking process. I would say that I do a little bit of salt, a good amount of pepper, a ton of chili seasoning, a tiny but or oregano, and a dash of cayenne.
- During this time, I also start cooking my vegan beef crumbles on a skillet. Cook just under the instructed time, because those “beef” crumbles are then going to warm in the chili. You don’t want them too overdone.
- Once your beef crumbles are ready, and the bean/corn/tomato mixture has cooked for a solid 10-15 minutes on its own, I then slowly add in the vegan beef crumbles.
- Next, add a little water as needed (You can add water as you desire… want it super chunky or more soupy? I like it right in the middle.)
- Add a bit more of your seasonings. Stir.
- Cover the pot with a lid on low heat, and allow the mixture to combine into a beautiful aroma of deliciousness. This is typically another 5-10 minutes.
- Allow everything to cool for a few minutes.
Building your bowl. There’s a real art to this!
My suggestion: Sprinkle a handful of corn chips on the bottom, then scoop in your desired amount of chili on top. Next, sprinkle the top with cheese to your liking, and then add just a few more corn chips on the tip top. Mix and ENJOY!
The “ish” part referenced in this recipes title: I cannot get on board with vegan cheese. So while Theo uses shredded vegan cheese on his, I use the real stuff sprinkled on mine.
Life’s a give and take 😉