I love chili. I’ll take it any way I can get it but I really enjoy vegetarian chili because, quite greedily, I can eat a larger bowl without filling up, and I can concentrate on all the great chili flavors without being overpowered by the meat. Don’t get me wrong, I love meat, but I feel like a truly flavorful chili recipe should be able to stand on its own without the meat. NOTE: You can add meat to this recipe, make it your own!
In this recipe, I wanted to add some smokiness from the grill to the chili because, well, I’m a little obsessed with smoky flavors AND, I thought it would add flavor depth to the vegetarian chili. I did this a few ways. First, I grilled all the peppers (poblano, jalapeno and tri-color mini peppers) in this recipe to caramelize and get a nice char from the grill. Second, I used smoked spices such as smoked sea salt, smoked pepper, smoked paprika and a bit of chipotle powder for additional depth.
After simmering on the stove for an hour, the chili was ready to go.
I served this with (low fat) sour cream, pepper jack cheese, cilantro, blue corn chips, and of course, copious amounts of hot sauce. This vegetarian chili is mildly spicy on its own, but not overpowering spicy. The heat is tolerable for your less adventurous eaters but is a great base for adding your favorite hot sauce. In this instance, I found Texas Pete – the HOT version, to be a great compliment. Another good runner up for me is Tabasco Chipotle, which is my standby hot sauce for just about everything.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large red or yellow bell pepper, chopped
- 1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 tri-color mini peppers
- 1 poblano pepper
- 2 jalapeno peppers
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 2 tsp smoked sea salt
- 1 tbsp cumin
- ½ tsp chipotle powder (you can also substitute 1/2 chili pepper in adobo, chopped finely)
- 1 tbsp smoked brown sugar
- dash cinnamon
- dash allspice
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
- ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
- 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
- 4 tbsp tomato paste (or half small can)
- ½ bottle craft beer
- 1 can (low sodium) chicken or beef broth
- 1 15 oz can pinto beans- rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz can black beans – rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz can kidney beans – rinsed and drained
- Grill your poblano, tri color and jalapeno peppers on medium direct heat until nice char marks develop on both sides.
- Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven on the stove on medium heat.
- Add onion and cook until soft.
- Add bell pepper and cook until tender.
- Add the garlic and spices and cook for another minute.
- Add the beer, Worcestershire sauce, chicken broth and the tomato paste.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to low.
- Now that the peppers have cooled, chop them up and add to the chili.
- Add beans and continue to simmer for another hour or until the chili has thickened.
If you like a soupier chili, add the whole bottle of beer instead of just half.
Scott and I ate this for a good week, and loved it every time!
Do you have a fun twist on vegetarian chili (or chili general!)? I’d love to hear it!