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help! cooking vegetarian chili for 500 people

I am in charge of cooking vegetarian chili for 500 at a fundraiser. all the groceries are being donated by a local grocery chain. I need to come up with a recipe, amounts & a shopping list in grocery size ingredients. I have access to a big steam kettle in a professional kitchen.
something like 50 gallons of chili? how does one begin to break that down? any help greatly appreciated!!

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  1. I've never cooked for that many people before, but if I were to, I would first make one batch of chili, measure it out and figure out how many people it will feed. Most likely, they will only have a a few ounces as there will be a lot of other food. After you have figured that out, do the math so you can feed 500 people.

    Hope that helps.

    1. Couple of questions: Are the 500 people vegetarians? How different is a vegetarian chili from a red pasta sauce with chili powder added?

      1. I've got a 10 gallon recipe but it contains pork shoulder and beef. Still interested?

        1. I used to be a chef and have made lots of vegetarian chili, but not on that scale. I e-mailled the Vegetarian Resource Group for some help.

          It terms of organization, get as much done ahead of time as possible. Chop & store vegies, have cooked beans, oils, spices at the ready, etc. You may be able to get some of the vegies, like onions, precut and frozen, and already cooked beans. The big kettle is great, but make sure you have a big ol' spoon or something with which to stir. Have containers for finished product at the ready. And get some help! vGood luck!

          4 Replies
          1. re: Richard 16

            Ahhh....vegetarian chili = chili breans?

            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              Hi Sam!

              As you probably know chili beans are a general term for beans used for chili. Pinto or kidney beans are common. I've made chili with pintos, kidneys, cattle, cranberry, great northern, and navy beans, and even lentils. Great northern and navy, both white, can make a white chili.

              Kidney aere my least favorite; the skin is, for me, tougher than I like for chili. Pinto, cattle, or cranberry beans, IMO, work best. Lentils are just weird for chili..

              As with im nomad I've added bulghur; people liked it but I didn't like the texture. Seitan works well but it's weird for meat eaters -- it's too close to meat to be able to separate the taste and texture as a separate food distinct from meat, and seitan is lousy meat.

              1. re: Richard 16

                16, thanks. I was just curious because many CHers maintain that chili does not contain beans. So my initial thought was a "chili" with no meat and no beans, which would end up being a spicy sauce. My mom used to make chili with meat and red kidneys. I work at an agricultural research institute where beans are one of our mandate crops. We have thousands of varieties in the gene bank; and I've made chili using many different lines from the experimental fields. As I've mentioned before, for my own chili I use a bit of dried African game meat to impart a bit of flavor.

                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Some people get weird about their chili. They seem to think that they have the right to define it for everyone. In Texas in competitions not only can there be no beans but no tomato products. (Or so I've seen on TV.) Competitors often grind up their vegetables, because heaven forbid there should pieces of vegetation as an obvious separate ingredient rather than just to flavor the meat.

                  But most of the definitions I've seen include that some chilis contain beans and/or tomato products. IMO It's why the phrase "chili con carne" exists -- the modifier is there to differentiate it from chili that that may have beans. "Vegetarian" chili has the modifier to indicate that there's no meat. "White" chili has the modifier to indicate that it does not have a deep red-brownish color, and likely contains white beans.

                  People that call themselves "purists" may disagree - that "real" chili has no beans or tomato or even discernible vegetables, They are more than welcome to have their own opinions, but (obviously) I take a broader view. The modifiers are crucial for communication, but do not make these variations on chili "not chili". IMO.

          2. The recipe I've been using for years, cut it out of a magazine ages ago, can't remember which one....and it has been the best i've tasted thus far. The ingredients are easy to find, and cheap, as it contains no meat-like soy products.

            MARVELOUS MEATLESS CHILI:

            1 can diced or whole tomatoes (796ml)
            1/2 cup bulgur
            3 tbsp vegetable oil
            2 large onions chopped
            3 cloves garlic minced
            2 tsp each dried chili powder, cumin and dried oregano
            2 sweet green peppers diced
            1 tsp minced jalapeno peppers
            1 19 oz can of kidney beans
            1 19 oz can of black beans
            1 12 oz can kernel corn
            1/2 cup tomato paste
            hot pepper, salt and pepper to taste
            (i sometimes also toss in some chopped mushrooms)
            options toppings are cheddar cheese, cilantro, sour cream

            -->drain juice from tomatoes into saucepan, reserve tomatoes. Stir bulgur into juice, bring to boil (i also do this in the micro), reduce heat and simmer for 5 mins, set aside
            -->in meantime, heat oil in large saucepan, add onions and spices and saute until soft.
            -->stir in tomatoes, bulgur mixture, green peppers, jalapeno, beans, corn, tomato paste and 1/2 cup water. Add hot pepper sauce and S&P to taste.
            -->cover and simmer 10 mins or more to desired thickness.

            This recipe makes 6 servings, so i'm guessing use that as a base and multiply x 500. Each serving has 392 calories, 9 grams of fat, 67 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams of protein. This is hearty stick to your ribs fare. As I recall, each serving is about 2 cups at least, so when i make it, it half fills my biggest pot.

            Hope that helps !!!

            2 Replies
            1. re: im_nomad

              This looks great. I'd stopped making veg chili a long time ago but I really like the looks of this recipe. You've inspired me to give it another go, so thanks, im nomad!

              1. re: kpzoo

                you're welcome! It's one of the best veg ones i've ever had. I sometimes kick up the spice level in it, or toss in a vegetarian bouillion cube to give it a little more flavor. It's a regular stock item in my freezer !!