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Vegetarian chili needed - excellent and with no fake meat

Nyleve Dec 27, 2009 09:09 AM

New Year's Eve. Capture the flag game followed by chili at midnight. I am in charge of the vegetarian version. I do make a really good one with sweet potatoes and pinto beans but I'm wondering what else might be out there. It must be very flavourful, with no fakey protein substitutes, absolutely contain beans, and it should not be too vehemently vegetarian (if you know what I mean). Probably no tofu.

  1. JoanN Dec 27, 2009 09:24 AM

    This is an unusual chili, not least because it's made in the microwave. Actually, I think it's the ONLY recipe I make in the microwave. I'm sure it could be adapted for stovetop easily enough, but I've never tried. Don't remember where it came from. Probably the NYTimes. Been making it for years and years. Easy to adjust spices up or down. I don't usually seed and derib the jalapenos since I like it really spicy. And definitely better the next day.

    Black Bean Chili

    1/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 large onion, peeled and chopped
    10 medium garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and chopped
    2 tablespoons ground cumin
    1 eggplant, cut in 1/4-inch dice
    1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, deribbed and cut in 1/4-inch dice
    4 to 4-1/2 jalapeno peppers, stemmed, seeded, deribbed and minced
    3 medium zucchini, cut in 1/4-inch dice
    2 cups black beans, cooked or 4-1/2 cups canned black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, drained and coarsely chopped (liquid reserved)
    2 bunches coriander, chopped
    1/4 cup fresh lime juice
    2 tablespoons kosher salt
    Black pepper to taste.

    Stir together the oil, onion, garlic and cumin in a 5-quart dish with a tightly fitted lid and cook, uncovered, at 100 % power for 7 minutes. Stir in eggplant and cook, covered, for 5 minutes. Stir in bell pepper and jalapeno and cook, covered, for 1 minute. Stir in zucchini, beans, tomatoes, and reserved tomato liquid and cook, covered, for 14 minutes, stirring once halfway through cooking. Stir in coriander and cook, covered, for 2 minutes. Stir in lime juice, salt and pepper.
    Makes 9 cups.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JoanN
      c oliver Dec 27, 2009 06:32 PM

      I chuckled when I read who had posted this. I was all ready to say "oh, please, MW" when I saw it was you. If YOU do it, then I know it's good. (And, please, nobody call me a suck up. This woman is a seriously good cook even though I've not eaten at her table.) Thanks, JoanN.

    2. w
      wineos Dec 27, 2009 09:33 AM

      I really like Giada's spicy bean soup (tastes just like a chili), and it makes a ton! I especially like the addition of broccoli and squash! Here is the recipe -

      I halved it when I made it and it was still plenty.

      1. todao Dec 27, 2009 09:53 AM

        "Chili" in its truest form, is made entirely with meat and has no beans. What you're planning is a spicy bean soup or bean stew. When I make something like that I prefer to use a variety of beans (cannellini beans, black beans, kidney beans, etc.) along with the usual tomatoes, onions, sometimes corn and typical herbs and spices. One key ingredient, IMO, is to add a touch of cinnamon. To heat things up, if you enjoy it a bit spicier than some folks do, I like to use Tobasco sauce. Chili powder is fine as a flavoring spice but it doesn't, IMO, have the kick that Tobasco offers. I agree with you that tofu would not be welcome in this dish. Some of your guests might like to drop a few chunks of tofu into the bowl as a finishing touch, but I wouldn't put it in the primary mix. If you haven't tried it, you might find it fun to put a handful of Fritos® in the bottom of the serving bowls and spoon your bean stew over the top. The crunch and corn flavor work well with this kind of dish.

        5 Replies
        1. re: todao
          Nyleve Dec 27, 2009 11:09 AM

          In Canada there is no such thing as chili in its truest form. I guess I am referring to the dish that is commonly known as chili - which contains beans, usually tomato, meat (if there's meat) and the kind of spices you'd expect in chili. If I called it spicy bean soup or bean stew, no one here would understand what I'm talking about. I know that purists will object, but nothing can be done about that.

          Cinnamon is a nice touch. And I usually add some canned chipotles or extra cayenne to my chili for heat. You're right - chili powder isn't enough.

          We'll be serving a meat chili and a veg chili, with an array of toppings - cheese, avocado, sour cream, crumbled tortilla chips. I don't want tofu anywhere near this dish.

          1. re: Nyleve
            todao Dec 27, 2009 11:57 AM

            Good point; if you don't call it "chili" your guests won't connect the various items on the menu. From your comments here, I don't think you need much help. Looks to me like you've got a very good handle on the dish. The cheese, avocado, sour cream and crumbled tortilla chips are great topping ideas. Best of luck with your gathering.
            One more thing to consider - a tablespoons or two of fresh lemon juice. It's something that is difficult to identify if brews, often that little something that causes everyone to express their pleasure with the food and ask "what's the special ingredient in your recipe?" It's one of those Umami things.

            1. re: Nyleve
              janetofreno Dec 27, 2009 12:33 PM

              I call it chili too, even if it isn't.

              My recipe:

              saute a chopped onion and two cloves of garlic, chopped, in olive oil. Add a chopped red pepper and a chopped green pepper, and a chopped jalapeno, and sautee until soft. Add two cans low-sodium red kidney beans, and two cans black beans, and one can pinto beans (double for a REAL crowd). Add a tablespoon of chili powder, and one of cumin powder. A dash of cinnamon as someone mentioned. Salt and pepper to taste. Add a can of tomato paste and a can of low-sodium chopped tomatoes (NOT the type that has stuff addred....). Add a handful of cilantro, chopped. A little extra cayenne OR some hot sauce, as previously mentioned, are good. I like a little bit of ketchup addred as well. And add a bottle of beer, minus a good swig you take yourself just for the heck of it. Simmer an hour or two....Taste and adjust seasonings. I often add more cumin, chili powder, and cayenne, but I like it spicy!

              1. re: Nyleve
                janetofreno Dec 27, 2009 12:34 PM

                PS to my recipe: double everything, not just the beans if you are feeding a crowd. And yes, all the toppings mentioned as well.....

                1. re: janetofreno
                  enbell Jan 30, 2010 11:46 AM

                  Janet, I just made a pot of this today (minus the beer and ketchup). Very simple, and very flavorful - thank you!!

            2. g
              ginnyhw Dec 27, 2009 12:35 PM

              I would use a variety of beans, at least 3, to vary the texture. Say pinto, garbanzo and kidney, maybe some black beans too.

              1. v
                valerie Dec 27, 2009 03:31 PM

                Here is a link to a recipe for Multi Bean Chili. Basic but good.


                4 Replies
                1. re: valerie
                  Rasam Dec 27, 2009 04:06 PM

                  Hi: I make really good vegetarian chili, beginning from a Moosewood cookbook recipe and tweaking along the way. It gets rave reviews every time.

                  As follows, serves ~ 8 to 10:

                  1. Heat olive oil and saute 2 finely diced onions and 4 cloves garlic.
                  2. Add spices: 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp chili powder, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce (these come in cans) diced.
                  3. Add 1 diced green and 1 diced red bell pepper, 2 carrots diced (optional), 1 small sweet potato diced (optional). Saute well.
                  4. Add Chopped tomatoes (canned or fresh, equivalent of 2 15 oz cans). The tomato cans with added green chili are good here, depending on how spicy you want it.
                  5. Simmer awhile, then add canned beans: 2 cans kidney beans, 1 can pinto, and 1 can corn (I prefer not to put garbanzos in chili).
                  6. Optional, but very good (Moosewood suggestion): add about 1/2 to 1 cup bulgur wheat, prepared per package directions. This gives some meaty-textured granules, without scaring people who are afraid of vegetarian ingredients (although TVP granules taste very good here). It's amazing how meaty and authentic the bulgur looks and tastes, once it's sat in the chili a while and absorbed the flavours.
                  7. Simmer for a little while longer till everything is done. Taste and adjust seasonings. Salt to taste if necessary.
                  8. Garnish with cilantro, and serve sour cream, maybe cornbread or tortillas, etc. on the side.

                  This is so excellent, I make industrial quantities of it when I make a batch, and the family inhales it morning, noon, and night, and snacks in between.

                  1. re: Rasam
                    JoanN Dec 27, 2009 04:10 PM

                    That sounds wonderful. Going directly into my to-try file. Thanks.

                    1. re: JoanN
                      MMRuth Dec 27, 2009 04:40 PM

                      I made one from the new Hopkinson book shortly after I got it that was delicious - actually the first chili I've ever made. I'll see if the recipe is on line.

                    2. re: Rasam
                      coll Dec 28, 2009 04:10 AM

                      Thanks for the info on the bulgar (I have a bag but not sure what I'm going to do with it yet) as we have a vegan friend and that could be a great substitute in other dishes too. Another thought, with all the mention of cinnamon, I've heard of adding some canned pumpkin to thicken.

                      Oh I just saw you wrote "sweet potatoes", I thought it said just potatoes......so the same idea.

                  2. j
                    jayaymeye Dec 27, 2009 04:13 PM

                    Whenever I make chili, I always add a bit of chocolate (about 1/4 cup of chocolate--semi-sweet or dark) to the chili after it's mostly cooked through. Makes a world of a difference!

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: jayaymeye
                      Rasam Dec 27, 2009 04:25 PM

                      Ii also usually add 1 tsp of cocoa powder to the recipe I posted above, but was not sure if Nyleve and guests would like it, so left it out. I agree it adds a certain depth and a slight mole effect to the chili.

                      But it also tastes splendid without it.

                      1. re: Rasam
                        Nyleve Dec 27, 2009 04:35 PM

                        The only thing I don't want is fake meat. Chocolate is a definite maybe.

                    2. visciole Dec 27, 2009 04:17 PM

                      I like to add red wine, mustard, and some coffee... I think it probably has a similar effect as the chocolate mentioned above. And fresh lemon juice at the end. And use a couple of different kinds of beans.

                      1. LNG212 Dec 28, 2009 06:24 AM

                        We like this vegetable chili recipe from Vegetarian Times -- http://www.vegetariantimes.com/recipe... . The recipe does not call for beans but we always add them anyway. And we especially like the cornmeal dumplings. They are a wonderful addition and just perfect (unless you are feeding vegans as well).

                        ETA: and we sub molasses for the brown sugar.

                        1. r
                          rararachel Dec 28, 2009 07:06 AM

                          I go back and forth between the America's Test Kitchen vegetarian bean chili (made with chipotle pepper) and this Black-Bean-Chili-with-Orange recipe (to which I add chocolate for a mole like chili)



                          1. b
                            bear Dec 29, 2009 05:19 PM

                            This is a very flavorful, well-rounded veggie chili recipe from The Way the Cookie Crumbles. I like that it has a decent amount of spicing, which really makes a difference in a meatless chili. Sometimes I add some roasted poblanos (hatch chiles would be great, too) or some Penzey's chipotle powder. Topping and cornbread and I'm pretty happy.


                            1. m
                              missyp Dec 29, 2009 06:46 PM

                              I've always loved the black bean chili from Deborah Madison's Greens Cookbook. She told the Chow folks it's the recipe people most say is their favorite of hers: http://www.chow.com/stories/10370

                              Here's a version online: http://www.panix.com/clay/cookbook/bi...

                              1. m
                                middydd Dec 29, 2009 06:59 PM

                                I like this very simple recipe:

                                Black Bean Chili with Green Rice


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