“Sometimes simple really is best. We couldn’t be happier to have perfected this chili.”
I am a huge proponent of a meat-conscious lifestyle. So at home, I usually cook pescatarian or vegetarian. The problem is making chili vegetarian – especially for people who are used to eating meat chili – is two fold. (1) It’s gotta be flavorful. Meaty chili gets a whole bunch of flavor from the stewed beef. (2) It’s gotta be “meaty” – not necessarily with the taste or texture of meat – but the “bite” of it. You want to eat chili not minestrone.
I’ve been perfecting my Veggie Chili for years and I think I’ve just now gotten it right. We make veggie chili about once a month – if not more in the colder seasons (Fall, Winter, Spring.) In fact, we keep most of the ingredients in our pantry just in case we want to make it on the whim.
One of the last times I made it – about two months ago – it was a cold January day. We had no food in the house and we decided to make some Chili. I found that I was missing a lot of the ingredients I normally put in, but I made it anyways. Foots and I both agreed – it was the best I had ever made. Sometimes simple is really best.
So now I make it that way – the minimalist way. But I won’t call it that. I’ll just say “Home Style” because it’s our way – and because we always have the ingredients in the house, just in case.
Recipe // Gubs’ Home Style Vegetarian Chili
Warning: I am not a professional chef. I do not use exact measurements. I provide guidelines. Season everything to your own taste. Leave out what you want to eat. Add what you enjoy. Take your time. Make with care. Assemble. Prep. Cook!
Makes: About 6 portions of soup – depending on how much you like chili
Time: 15 min Prep Time, 40 min Cook Time
Survives: days 2 – 4 in the fridge are best, day 5… you’re playing chili roulette. Day 6, absolutely no.
Bang for your Buck: $ // A bunch of cans and veggies – and the cost per serving is super low!
– 2 yellow onions
– 5 cloves of garlic // Do all 5. Don’t give me that look. You need them.
– 4 medium carrots // Not baby carrots. Real carrots. Come on, Clarke.
– 2 15oz cans of dark red kidney beans
– 1 15 oz can of black beans // You can use water beans you like in whatever portions you want – as long as you have 45 oz of beans. I prefer dark red kidney (DRK) beans and the black because they are very earthy – yet sweet, which will blend well with the spiciness later.
– 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
– 4 cups of veggie broth
– 1 packet of your favorite Chili spice. // We use McCormick Chili Original because we find it has all the bases – and then we season on top of it. But you can use a hotter one or a less hot one, depending on what you like.
– a dollop of olive oil
– red pepper flake
– bay leaves
– everyday seasoning
1 // Prep
– Cut the onions into thin french strips (like you would for French Onion soup), and then give them a very rough over chop. // I like the strips of onion, but it does make them more present in the Chili. If you prefer to not have chunks of onion, you can dice or mince.
– Mince the garlic pretty fine
– Mince the carrots
– Drain the kidney beans and the black beans (you can do this together or separate). Wash them well. And then drain them again.
2 // Cook
– Put a large pot over a medium heat. Dollop in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and heat til shimmering
– Pour in the onions and the garlic and cook together until sweaty and golden – about 5 to 7
– Add in the carrots, stir well to integrate and cook until carrots are slightly tender – about 2 – 3 minutes
– Rip open that Chili packet and put it in. Also add in 4 dashes of red pepper flake and 8 dashes of oregano. Integrate well and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute) to let the spices to activate. At this point, it should be sticky and think, and feel like you’re “kneading” the soup.
– With everything integrated, add the tomatoes. Stir well and cook for 2 minutes – just to get the party started.
– Throw in all your beans
– Throw in however much broth you want – between 2 and 6 cups. // I usually do around 4, it just depends on what consistency you want it. More soupy? More broth. More chunky? Less. You are the captain now.
– Make sure to reserve any leftover broth, just in case too much boils off during cooking.
– Add 2 bay leaves, 4 dashes of everyday seasoning, and 3 pinches of salt.
– Now the good part. Cook for 25 minutes at a gentle simmer.
– At 25 minutes, taste your chili. If it’s got too much of a tomato taste, add some more oregano. If it doesn’t “pop” in you mouth, add a pinch or two more of salt. If it isn’t spicy enough, throw some more red pepper flake.
– Cook 5 more minutes.
– Now let the chili cool on the stove – about an hour. “Why can’t I eat it?” You ask. What, are you silly? Eating chili on the first day. No. Put that chili in a pyrex and shove it in the oven. You can eat it tomorrow for lunch of dinner. It will taste SO much better on day two. You won’t regret it.
Eating Now // Please don’t. Seriously. Did you read the last instruction?
Eating Later // Heat in a microwave safe bowl for about 2 minutes on high. Stir at 1 minute and at the end. Serve with tortilla chips – fresh*** or from a bag. Enjoy that spicy, comfort food goodness.
***Gubs’ Fresh Tortilla Slices: not really chips, but we enjoy taking some taco tortillas and brushing them with either butter (for a softer, but more flavorful) or canola oil (crunchier, but not as rich), putting them in a medium-high heat saute pan for about 1:30 minutes each side. Great for holding this soup!
Scorecard // Who misses the meat? I don’t.
EASE TO MAKE: 4/5
Chop and cook. What could be easier!
TIME TO MAKE: 3.5/5
The soup itself isn’t too bad – especially for how much food you’re making. But you then have to wait many hours to eat it. The anticipation is killing me – but it’s worth it!
Keep for about 5 days and reheats in a flash! What more could you want!
The best chilis are ones that are just spicy enough to leave your lips burning – but not your mouth. We love this chili because it is so customizable and so simple. It doesn’t have a whole lot of ingredients, but it packs a whole bunch of flavor!
We honestly always keep the ingredients in the house because we love making it. This is out of the park for us and we make it all the time.
FINAL JUDGEMENT: 4.5/5
We love soup. But sometimes a veggie broth with carrots in it doesn’t do it. This chili really packs quite a punch in both flavor, cost-reward, and simplicity to make. We couldn’t be happier to have perfected this chili.
Do you know a recipe I should try?
Or do you know a restaurant that does this recipe really well?
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