Three-bean vegetarian chili

A base of three different kinds of beans gives this vegetarian chili a 'meaty' texture.

Kitchen Report
A base of three different kinds of beans gives this vegetarian chili a 'meaty' texture.

When the New Year rolls around, I notice an increase in published recipes for legumes – lentils, black beans, black-eyed peas are all popular online searches. This vegetarian chili combines three kinds of beans – red, kidney, and black – nicely into one pot.

On New Year’s Eve, instead of going out, we had a couple of friends come over to enjoy chili and six-person Chinese checkers in front of the fire while we watched the ball drop on TV. Eric has a family recipe for chili using Brooks Chili Mild Red Beans in Chili Sauce that he likes to make but since one of our guests is a vegetarian, like so many of my friends, I set about to figure out a vegetarian version. Brooks Beans can’t be found in New England, so Eric bulk ordered the beans online last year – and we are still working through the stockpile.

I had made this vegetarian chili once before for another friend who prefers meatless dishes and since the report from both friends was a solid “thumbs up” I’m writing down the recipe for future reference.

My sense is that vegetarian dishes should have a good “mouth feel” to make up for the lack of meat. So I cut the peppers on the larger side. The three beans add that “meaty” texture one expects from a good bowl of chili. I like to add a teaspoon of cinnamon, which, combined with the carrot, adds a bit of sweetness, too.

Three-bean vegetarian chili
Serves 4 to 6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1 to two cloves of garlic, diced
1 green pepper, diced into 1-inch pieces
1 carrot, sliced into coins
1 15.5-ounce can of Brooks Mild Red Beans in Chili Sauce
1 15.5-ounce can of kidney beans, drained
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained
1 14.5-ounce can stewed, whole tomatoes
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons chili powder (you could go up to 1 table spoon of chili powder, depending how hot you like your chili
Kosher salt and pepper, to taste

For the toppings:
Shredded cheese of your choice
Sour cream
Green onions, thinly sliced.

1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pot or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onions and and sautee until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sautee until aromatic, about 30 seconds.

2. Add the green pepper and carrot and sautee another 3 to 4 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Season with a pinch or two of Kosher salt and a grind of fresh pepper.

3. Add the remaining ingredients. I don’t think there is any magical order, just allow the chili to simmer over low heat for about 20 minutes to let all the flavors meld. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference.

4. Ladle into bowls and top with shredded cheese, a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of sliced green onions and serve.

Notes: There are many brands of beans and tomato sauce to choose, some with add flavoring and some without. I prefer Goya beans. The stewed tomatoes I used were already seasoned with onions, celery, and green peppers. The tomato sauce had added basil, garlic, and oregano. I didn’t have any fresh garlic on hand so I substituted a sprinkle of garlic powder.

Related post on Kitchen Report: Sweet potato chili

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