Vegan Red Chili

A winter classic, vegan chili that is as dense and hearty as a meat-filled version can be hard to come by. I've finally cracked the mystery. This chili uses a lot of traditional flavors and ingredients but substitutes diced mushrooms and sweet potatoes for ground beef to give a taste and texture that easily compares to your favorite recipe. Whether you're plant-based, vegan, or looking for something for Meatless Monday, I think that this is a recipe that could fool a lot of people!

It finally cooled down in Colorado! Colorado weather is unpredictable, but having so many February days in the 70s is weird, even for us. We finally got a break and it even snowed. I ran on my lunch break around downtown Denver and felt like I was in a snow globe. I also successfully did a tempo workout without overheating, which was a major bonus. All the warm weather has had me sweating more than I would like to for Winter training!

The seasonal change immediately got me thinking about what I wanted to make that was cold weather appropriate, and I settled on chili. When you use whole food ingredients, chili can sometimes be a challenging dish to make as it can easily end up with excess liquid if you don't use any fillers to thicken the sauce, which I do not. However the recipe below limits the liquid (one cup of broth) and relies on the liquid released from the cooked vegetables to provide the rest. This recipe has an amazing ratio of ingredients per bite, and the black beans and shredded mushrooms truly give it the texture of a meat-based chili. I don't miss meat at all, but I have high standards when it comes to chili! This recipe also uses a combination of heat, sweet, and savory, giving it a classic red chili flavor. Intrigued yet? Read below on how to make this for yourself!

Medium Prep, Medium Quick

Four Servings

What You Need:

  • Four cups tomatoes, diced

  • One cup vegetable broth

  • 8oz package of mushrooms, shredded in a food processor or finely chopped

  • 3 small sweet potatoes, shredded in a food processor or finely chopped

  • One green pepper, diced

  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

  • 1 jalapeno, diced

  • 1 tablespoon cocoa

  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave

  • 1 teaspoon salt (+ more to taste)

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder (+ more to taste)

I used my trusty pressure cooker to make this, but you could easily do it on a stovetop. I've included both versions below. Also, if you don't have a food processor or an immersion blender, I've included alternative ways for you to prepare this, so there is a lot of 'if not this, then this!' directions both above and below. I've tried to make them as clear as possible using italics!

Directions (Pressure Cooker):

Step One: Put your diced tomatoes and cup of broth in the pressure cooker and either set on the 'vegetable' setting OR time cook for 8 minutes. They need to be cooked enough that they are falling apart!

Step Two: When your tomatoes are cooked, use an immersion blender to puree them. This is now your liquid base for your chili. If you don't have an immersion blender you could carefully transfer the mixture to a real blender and puree OR you could just mash with a potato masher until they're broken down.

Step Three: Add all of your other ingredients to the pressure cooker. Mix thoroughly. It will feel like you don't have enough liquid, but keep in mind the other vegetables are going to sweat and release more liquid.

Step Four: Reset your Pressure Cooker to the Vegetable setting OR time cook for 12 minutes.

Step Five: When the Pressure Cooker is finished, open the lid and stir. You'll see now that you have a dense chili that is not too liquidy! Stir, and taste. You may wish to add more salt, chili powder, etc.

Directions (Stove Top):

Step One: Put your diced tomatoes and broth In a saucepan, and bring to a boil. Let them simmer, covered, over low heat for about 5 minutes. They need to be cooked enough that they are falling apart!

Step Two: When your tomatoes are cooked, use an immersion blender to puree them. This is now your liquid base for your chili. If you don't have an immersion blender you could carefully transfer the mixture to a real blender and puree OR you could just mash with a potato masher until they're broken down.

Step Three: Add all of your other ingredients to the same saucepan. Mix thoroughly. It will feel like you don't have enough liquid, but keep in mind the other vegetables are going to sweat and release more liquid.

Step Four: Let this mixture simmer over low heat, also covered, for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Step Five: After 10 minutes, you'll see now that you have a dense chili that is not too liquidy! Stir, and taste. You may wish to add more salt, chili powder, etc.

I served this with diced avocados on top but you could easily add your usual chili toppings--diced onion, more tomato, cilantro, even cheese if you eat it. This makes enough to serve two people for two nights. Let me know what you think!


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