Not only is this smoky vegetarian chili vegetarian… it’s vegan! And when you taste it, you will be like WHOA. This chili is VEGAN? Shut the front door. Which is exactly the reaction Zach and I had to it.
This has to be one of the most hearty and delicious vegan meals I have ever had. EVER. Filled with mushrooms and beans, this chili is filling and nutrient-packed. It’s inexpensive to make, and this recipe makes a TON so you can freeze leftovers for another meal or two or three or four. Plus, it passed the test of approval from my Texan husband, who usually has a strong aversion to beans in chili.
But what really makes this chili really stand on its own is the secret spice combination: it’s smoky from smoked paprika, smooth and velvety from cocoa powder(!!!) and cinnamon, and spicy from chili powder and cayenne. It’s a mind-blowing combination unlike anything I have ever tried in chili before, adapted from a post on The Picky Eater. I added cinnamon as homage to my Greek roots (the Greeks really like cinnamon with their meals, like in manestra) and some cayenne pepper for an extra kick.
Guys, I’m just going to go ahead and say it: this chili does not need fixings. No sour cream, cheese, or anything on top. I know this may sound like blasphemy, and sure, you can add them if you want… but we had it last night with nothing but a little extra hot sauce, and it was phenomenal.
By the way, I am not vegan, even though I would eat this chili over meat chili almost any day.
My food philosophy is similar to that of Michael Pollan’s philosophy in In Defense of Food: eat food, not too much, mostly plants (a really awesome summer read- you’ll devour it. HAH!). I don’t limit myself to any specific food lifestyle or diet- I’ve dabbled in vegetarianism, eating paleo, low carb, etc., and have found that, for me, they are too limiting and restricting to adhere to 100% of the time. I’d drive myself crazy! It’s just not for me.
Instead, I make sure the ingredients I buy are real, clean, and unprocessed… 90% of the time. And what better way to eat “mostly plants” than to eat vegan every once in a while?
Please do not be put off by the long ingredient list. Chances are, you have many of the items already in your pantry. And if you do not, you can absolutely omit a few things here and there- that’s the great thing about chili, it’s hard to mess up! Slow cooker and freezer instructions below :-)
Here’s the recipe for Smoky Vegetarian/Vegan Chili!
Smoky Vegetarian Chili
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 red bell peppers diced (or any other color bell pepper)
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 16 oz. mushrooms roughly chopped
- 6 cups cooked black kidney, and/or pinto beans, washed and drained (4 small cans. I used equal parts kidney and black beans).
- 2 cups frozen corn
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 3-4 cups vegetable or chicken broth or water
- approx. 5 splashes soy sauce
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro optional
- hot sauce optional
- cooked brown rice or quinoa for serving optional
- Saute peppers and onion in olive oil until softened over medium heat in a large pot (approximately 5 minutes).
- Add garlic; saute for 2 more minutes until fragrant.
- Add mushrooms; saute until softened.
- Add remaining ingredients except cilantro; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for at least 20 minutes.
- Add cilantro during last five minutes of cooking. Top with hot sauce and serve over rice if you want, and enjoy!
- Slow cooker directions:To make in the slow cooker: add all ingredients to slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. If needed, cut amount of mushrooms and beans in half and do not use as much water or stock, in order to fit in your slow cooker. Freezer directions: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 6 months. When ready to eat, run hot water on the outside of the container, pop out into a large pot, cover, and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally until heated through.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.