It surprises me that I never learned how to make chili. When I was growing up, we would almost always purchase vegetarian chili in cans at the grocery store, but I truly do not remember having homemade chili that often. What I do remember is that I loved it and enjoyed the combination of savory flavors and textures.
A few months ago I made a vegetarian chili, and what resulted was not what I had hoped to enjoy. It was heavy on vegetables, and light on the (fake) meaty consistency that I was really after. I was disappointed, so I vowed that I’d figure out how to make a version that was more reminiscent of what I had grown up with. Several weeks ago I had success, and I am excited to say that it is both super easy to make and delicious. Since then I have made it again, and it was just as easy and good as the first time.
Easy Vegan Chili
1-pound bag of dry Kidney beans or 2 15-ounce cans of Kidney beans
1 medium or large onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 package Smart Ground Original veggie protein crumbles or another vegan meat substitute
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 heaping tablespoons chili powder
1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP), optional
If you are using dry beans, I have already written a post on how you can cook them. This recipe is based upon cooking your own beans, but I will give you an idea of what I would do if I had used canned beans.
If you are using canned beans, put them in a pot, and add a little bit of additional liquid (I would probably do up to 2 cups). Add in the onion, tomato sauce, veggie protein crumbles, salt, garlic powder and chili powder and allow to simmer for half an hour or 45 minutes over medium heat. It will be ready when the onion is cooked to a desired tenderness. To make this a faster process, you can also sauté the onions first, then add all the ingredients together and let simmer for about 15 or 20 minutes. Taste it and adjust seasonings based upon your preference.
Otherwise, if you are using dry beans, about an hour or hour and a half before the beans have finished cooking, add the onion, tomato sauce, veggie protein crumbles, salt, garlic powder and chili powder to the beans in your slow cooker and stir to incorporate. If it still seems too soupy to you, add in about half a cup to a cup of TVP. It will absorb water and also add more texture to your chili.
Allow the chili to cook until the beans are done and the onions are cooked through. And you’ll know what I am going to say next – taste test and add more garlic, chili powder or salt if you feel that the flavors are not strong enough.
I like my chili to have an additional kick, but I don’t like to make the chili with too much spiciness – that way each person who eats it can adjust the heat according to their own tolerance. My current favorite hot sauce to use is Cholula Chipotle. It lends both a kick and a smoky pepper flavor, which really enhances the chili for me.
Do you make chili? What is your favorite way to make it? And finally, do you enhance your bowl of chili with some of your favorite hot sauce?
Samantha Mills blogs at Novel Eats.
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