Recipe: Easy vegan chili

Nice hot mug of chili, topped with fresh cilantro and ground black pepper!
Nice hot mug of chili, topped with fresh cilantro and ground black pepper!

Not much to this recipe, really. We decided to have another house dinner now that everyone in the house has actually arrived, and that meant easy cooking for a big group on a budget that includes somebody with lactose intolerance and two wheat-allergic people, one of whom is vegan. “Bean-based stew” was the logical option for a main course. Since we already did a split pea, chickpea, and lentil curry for the last group dinner, I motioned that this time we cook up a nice pot of chili. Then I sort of bossed my way into organizing the whole darn thing (not that there were any objections, per se…I just happened to be the one who set up the Doodle poll for availability, and I’m kind of a bossy person when it comes to cooking), so I got to find the recipe.

Amanda did all the actual hard work (chopping) when we made this for our house dinner.
Amanda did all the actual hard work (chopping) when we made this for our house dinner.

Unfortunately, I found myself somewhat over-committed in the “social events” department on Sunday evening, and chili is not really a quick recipe, so I found myself looking for ways to streamline the cooking process so I could run off to hang out with the boaties afterwards. I’ve never really made chili before, and certainly never without the aid of a slow-cooker, but it’s relatively simple and can be made easier by using canned beans and omitting meat. It’s also one of those wonderful meals that tastes better the next day, so I solved my timing problem by doing all of the hard steps (chopping the vegetables through simmering with the broth) in the morning, letting it simmer/sit out on the stove in the afternoon, then reheating it and letting the tomatoes, beans, and corn cook in while we made kale chips.

Onions, carrots, and bell peppers: almost the "holy trinity" of Cajun cooking.
Onions, carrots, and bell peppers: almost the “holy trinity” of Cajun cooking.
Adding the beer (I used a really terrible Halloween-themed beer because it was on sale).
Adding the beer (I used a really terrible Halloween-themed beer because it was on sale).
Simmering with the vegetable stock.
Simmering with the vegetable stock.
Mixed beans: kidney, borlotti, and black-eyed peas.
Mixed beans: kidney, borlotti, and black-eyed peas.

I really like this recipe! It turned out to make a huge pot of healthy, filling chili; I didn’t miss the meat much at all, and it was nice not having to worry about browning ground beef for 10-12 people! I’ll definitely be making chili again in the future.

The final simmer, with everything added. This turned out to be a huge pot of chili!
The final simmer. This turned out to be a huge pot of chili, but there were no leftovers!

Easy Vegan Chili

Adapted from: The Kitchn.

Yield: 10-12 servings

Olive oil
3-4 small or 2 large onions, finely chopped
3-5 bell peppers, varying colors, finely chopped
3-4 carrots, finely chopped
4-5 large potatoes or 750g baby potatoes, cut into ~1 cm cubes
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
1.5 Tbsp chili powder
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2-1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp cocoa powder (optional)
1 bottle amber/brown ale
~4 c vegetable broth (I made my own!)
3 cans chopped tomatoes
3-4 cans various beans, drained and rinsed
1 can corn, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste

Optional (not necessarily vegan) extras for serving: sour cream or yogurt, shredded cheese, scallions, cilantro, hot sauce, tortilla chips, rice, cornbread

Add 1-2 Tbsp olive oil to a large pot and warm over medium-high heat. Add onions, peppers, carrots, and potatoes and cook until onions are soft and translucent and other vegetables are softened, 10-15 minutes. Clear a space in the middle and add the garlic. Cook the garlic until fragrant then stir into the vegetables along with the tomato paste, if using.

Add chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and cocoa powder, if using. Cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant and vegetables are coated with spices, about 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Deglaze the pan with the beer: pour it into the pot and scrape the dark, sticky crust of spices and vegetables juices off the bottom (and sides) as the liquid evaporates. Continue until the beer has almost evaporated.

Add broth to at least cover the vegetables and bring to a simmer. Cook ~ 30 minutes (or as long as you want; I left it simmering for ~2 hours), until potatoes are tender. Add tomatoes, beans, and corn. Simmer for another 10 minutes. Taste and add more seasonings and salt if necessary.

Serving suggestion: topped with sour cream, yogurt, or shredded cheese, chopped scallions or cilantro, and hot sauce if desired; served over cornbread or rice or with tortilla chips alongside for dipping.

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