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Chunky Vegan Chili Recipe

Who says that hearty soups have to have meat in them? We blow that theory out of the water with this ultra-comforting Chunky Vegan Chili! This filling soup is the perfect bowl to keep you warm through the upcoming cold-weather months. The best part? It’s fast and super easy!

A round serving tray with two bowls of vegan chili, and a side of vegan cheese and vegan sour cream. This is a decorative image.
Grab a bowl and come to the table!

Growing up, my mom would make us chili for a cheap and hearty meal when the weather finally got a little colder. I remember one evening after most of my family had finished their meals, my mom had invited me into her lap. I was still very young— the age where you know you’re not supposed to lie, but haven’t quite figured out how to be polite about it. She asked me why I hadn’t finished my chili and I very confidently informed her, in a British accent for some reason, that it was “Too bean-y!”. Luckily, my mom was far from offended— she laughed hard; I bounced up and down on her lap, not sure what was funny but happy to laugh along. It’s a moment that I’ve never lived down. 

Now that I’m all grown up, I definitely don’t think my mom’s chili is too bean-y, but perhaps a little too meaty. This vegan chili hits all the musts: chunky, warm, and just all the spices keep your mouth warm even after you’ve finished eating, making it perfect for the chilly months. All of that flavor and comfort with none of the animal products! And best of all, this recipe is highly customizable: fewer beans for those who don’t like it too bean-y, substitute crushed tomatoes for the diced if you like your chili a little less chunky, and of course adjust the spiciness to your preferences! 

Chunky Vegan Chili Ingredients

Olive Oil: I used about one tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to saute the onion in.

Onion: I used one medium onion.

Garlic: I almost always recommend fresh garlic over powder or pre-minced. I’m using 4 cloves.

Ground Beef Replacement of Choice: I decided to use LightLife Mexican Style Smart Grounds, which greatly reduced the amount of each spice I needed to add. If you choose to use a plain meat-replacement (or no meat-replacement at all) I recommend doubling the spices listed and tasting as you go!

Dark Red Kidney Beans: I used one 14.5oz can of dark red kidney beans.

Light Red Kidney Beans:  I also used one 14.5oz can of lightred kidney beans.

Diced Tomatoes: I used two 14.5oz cans of diced tomatoes.

Chili Powder: What is chili without chili powder? A sad bean soup, that’s what! I’m using at least 2 tablespoons, but add as much as you like. Just remember to taste as you go!

Smoked Paprika: I only used about 1 teaspoon, and mine could have been a little spicier. Coming from someone who can’t even eat sriracha, you’ll probably want to add more than a teaspoon of smoked paprika.

Pepper: For this recipe, I decided to use a mix of black and white pepper. I used about one teaspoon each, but again, do yours to taste.

Salt: I always say to add salt to taste, but I found that this recipe could take a lot of salt. I would start with two big pinches and go from there. The amount needed will change based on how much salt the canned goods are made with. It’s also important to note that I’m using Morton’s Kosher salt, which is saltier than Dimond Crystal Kosher salt.

(Optional) Water: I was using a pot that was definitely not non-stick and needed a little bit of water to deglaze the pot. If you’re using a quality pot, you may not need this. For my fellow college students who haven’t invested in their kitchen appliances yet, you likely will.

To Serve:

My mom always served chili with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and Fritos. I like to eat this vegan chili with Forager plain unsweetened yogurt (which tastes like sour cream) and some Daiya cheddar-style shreds. I didn’t eat mine with Fritos this time, but fun fact: Fritos and Fritos Scoops are both vegan!

How to Make Chunky Vegan Chili

  1. Chop one medium onion, and mince (or use a Microplane) four cloves of garlic.
  2. In a stockpot or dutch oven, add one tablespoon of olive oil and one chopped onion. Saute over low-medium heat until the onions are translucent-turning-brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the finely minced garlic and saute until fragrant. Add your meat replacement of choice, spices, and continue to saute for another few minutes. Stir often to avoid sticking. At this point, you may need some water to deglaze the pot. This is important to avoid burning your spices!
  4. Once the “meat” is browned and likely smelling pretty good, add all of the canned goods. I like to start with the tomatoes to give the beans a soft place to land, but they’re all going to the same place! (My mouth!) 
  5. Gently stir to combine, cover, and leave the vegan chili to simmer for 5-10 minutes. I like using the diced tomatoes instead of the crushed because it gives me more control of how soupy versus chunky the final product is. If you like your chili a little less chunky, you can simmer it for longer. This allows the tomatoes to break down further, giving you a higher sauce-to-stuff ratio than you would have otherwise. Similarly, if you like your chili ultra-chunky, you simply have to wait for all of the ingredients to warm through and it’s ready!
  6. I like to serve it with a tablespoon or two of “sour cream” and “shredded cheese”. However you like to serve yours, I hope you enjoy it!
Yield: 4 Servings

Chunky Vegan Chili

Chunky Vegan Chili

Who says that hearty soups have to have meat in them? We blow that theory out of the water with this ultra-comforting Chunky Vegan Chili! This filling soup is the perfect bowl to keep you warm through the upcoming cold-weather months. The best part? It’s fast and super easy!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 12oz Ground beef replacement of choice. (I decided to use LightLife Mexican Style Smart Grounds, which greatly reduced the amount of each spice I needed to add.)
  • 14.5oz dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 14.5oz light red kidney beans. rinsed and drained
  • 30oz diced tomatoes, canned
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder, more if using unseasoned meat replacement.
  • Smoked paprika to taste
  • White and Black pepper to taste
  • Salt to taste, I found that this recipe needed a fair amount.
  • (optional) Water to deglaze the pot
  • (for serving) plant-based sour cream or yogurt, plant-based cheese, and Fritos

Instructions

  1. Chop one medium onion, and mince (or use a Microplane) four cloves of garlic.
  2. In a stockpot or dutch oven, add one tablespoon of olive oil and one chopped onion. Saute over low-medium heat until the onions are translucent-turning-brown, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the finely minced garlic and saute until fragrant. Add your meat replacement of choice, spices, and continue to saute for another few minutes. Stir often to avoid sticking. At this point, you may need some water to deglaze the pot. This is important to avoid burning your spices!
  4. Once the “meat” is browned and likely smelling pretty good, add all of the canned goods. I like to start with the tomatoes to give the beans a soft place to land, but they’re all going to the same place! (My mouth!) 
  5. Gently stir to combine, cover, and leave to simmer for 5-10 minutes. I like using the diced tomatoes instead of the crushed because it gives me more control of how soupy versus chunky the final product is. If you like your chili a little less chunky, you can simmer it for longer. This allows the tomatoes to break down further, giving you a higher sauce-to-stuff ratio than you would have otherwise. Similarly, if you like your chili ultra-chunky, you simply have to wait for all of the ingredients to warm through and it’s ready!
  6. I like to serve it with a tablespoon or two of “sour cream” and “shredded cheese”. However you like to serve yours, I hope you enjoy it!

Notes

This recipe is highly customizable! For a less chunky chili, use one can of diced tomatoes and one of can crushed tomatoes. Feel free to play with how much and which spices you use. You can omit the meat-replacement altogether and just opt for bean chili. If you like it spicy, add paprika and cayenne or even a hot sauce of choice. This recipe is also really easy to scale up. Have fun with this one and make it exactly how you like it. I almost never make chili the same way twice, it's all up to how I'm feeling and what I'm craving that week.

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