Beth's Vegan Chili

Photo for Tracey Medeiros's The Vermont Farm Table Cookbook by Oliver Parini of Burlington, Vermont, which features a recipe for the chili served at Burlington's City Market/Onion River Co-op.

JP tells me that this week's bag share from Glade Road Growing will include tomatoes and peppers, so I thought I'd give you my recipe for vegan chili.

Last week, I mentioned that I had attended a pot luck on Sunday.  One cook, a vegan, told me that she never used fake meat when she cooked for herself or her husband, but that she used it to make recipes my "special" for meat eaters.

I disagree!  Meat eaters know what meat tastes like and fake meat and tvp, besides being highly processed, really don't taste like meat.  Instead I suggest that you use spices and whole ingredients. To add a bit of richness, my chili recipe includes cocoa powder, cinnamon and paprika, in addition to the more traditional spices, plus some miso, instead of salt to give depth of flavor.  You could also deepen the flavor by adding diced roasted sweet potatoe instead of the carrots and some sautéed chopped mushrooms.  To get the texture of the meat or tvp, I suggest cooked barley, or if you're gluten intolerant, quinoa.  Because I don't have any Mexican oregano, I also use some fresh chopped basil in the garnish.

I top my chili with greek yogurt or labneh, but of course that's not vegan.  Instead you can use this recipe for tofu "sour cream."


Serves 8

2 cups dried beans (your choice of black, navy, kidney, red beans or lentils, or a combination thereof)
1 cup of barley or quinoa

1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon of cinnamon

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 poblano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled and finely chopped
2 cups diced heirloom tomatoes (about 2 medium--you can use canned diced unsalted tomatoes, when tomato season is over)
2 cups of water
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
4 tablespoons of miso, thinned with water

Greek yogurt or "tofu sour cream"
1 cup of chopped heirloom tomatoes
1/2 cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup of fresh basil, cut into slivers
1 shallot, peeled and sliced thinly (or substitute a bit of red onion)


1. The night before or at least 3 hours before you start the soup, bring beans to boil with 4 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight lid then turn down heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well. Bring back to a boil, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes and then let soak for an hour or overnight. Rinse a second time and bring back to boil with a bay leave and cook until soft. Drain.

2.  After you start the beans, bring the grain of your choice to boil with 4 cups of water in a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight lid then turn down heat to simmer for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse well. If you are using quinoa, bring back to a boil, cover and simmer for another 5 minutes, turn off the heat and leave covered for at least 20 minutes until it absorbs the water.  For barley, you will need to cook it longer for it to be tender, so after it sits for the 20 minutes, cover the barley with water and bring back to a boil and then simmer until it is tender and the water is absorbed.

2. In a dry, seasoned cast iron skillet, toast the spices and set aside.   Add the oil to the skillet and cook onions, until they are softened. Add the celery, the peppers, the carrots and the garlic and cook the mixture, stirring, for 4 minutes.  Transfer to a large heavy-bottomed pot.  Add the tomatoes and water, the tomato paste, the cocoa, the cooked beans and grain and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

4. Stir in the spices and simmer the soup, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

6. Take off the heat and season soup by stirring in the thinned miso.

7. To serve, divide soup into  individual bowls, garnish with yogurt or tofu sour cream, chopped fresh basil, cilantro, tomatoes and shallots.