A Recipe With A Legendary History
The history of Chili or Chili Con Carne in the United States is long and passionate. Whole debates, books, and media wars have occurred over what constitutes a proper bowl of chili, and if you travel through Texas… forget it. People might come to blows over a disputed ‘right’ recipe.
I’m not that rabid about it, to be honest. A good bowl of food is a good bowl of food. What thrills me about chili is that we can make it in any variation we choose and as long as it’s tasty, who cares? (I might just have alienated a good number of you by making that statement.)
What I do love about the chili wars is that there is so much passion behind the dish. I mean… people take their chili seriously, people. Whole competitions are erected around this one dish of food. For some interesting history, check out this and this link. It gives you just a small scratch on the surface of what is known and talked about in the chili realm.
For me, this recipe came out of a need to:
- Make my first bonafide bowl of chili.
- Warm Jon and I up at meal time in a very cold cabin in a very snowy week in Winter.
Know that I am fully aware this Vegan Chili Recipe won’t actually pass for official chili in many peoples books.
I say it is.
Whether you’re in the ‘no beans’ camp or the ‘yes beans’ camp, this bowl is hearty, flavorful, geared towards those that like mild heat, but adaptable enough for those that like a lot of heat in their chili.
And this is the one thing I love so much about chili and I believe is at the heart of it’s history – Adaptability.
If history is accurate, or at least close to it, cooks on the cattle trail from New Mexico to Texas worked with what they had in order to make a bowl of chili for the cattle hands on the trail. Chili and meat were always at the heart of things, but the rest? Varied. It had to.
So, I don’t find it all to offensive that if you’re a vegetarian or a vegan that you can adapt your chili enough to exclude meat, but still be heart and warming and nourishing.
To that end, this is my first of many chili recipes.
Only The First
I say the first, because instantly, while researching for this recipe and trying a few variations, I realized with excitement that the possibilities are endless.
As an omnivore, I look forward to creating a meat friendly version as well as something a bit deeper in the heat department. I don’t believe there can be only one, though undoubtedly, I’ll eventually end up with a favorite. You’ll be able to check them all out over time!
About This Recipe
This is what I call an easy chili. First, it’s a slow cooker recipe, which means, you put it all together and walk away for a long time. That kind of cooking is always magical to me. But the other way that it’s easy is that it’s an easy flavor, with adjustable heat, and perfect to pair with all sorts of things, like baked potatoes, as a corn chip dip, in a bowl with a piece of crusty break or on top of oven heated toast for breakfast with a fried egg on top.
Like with all chili recipes, you can adapt this to suit your needs, tastes and to accommodate whatever fresh ingredients you may or may not have on hand. This is just a start off point.
You’ll note as well, that this recipe is heavy on the organic produce. My aim is to make clean, healthy for the body and healthy for the planet food. It costs a bit more at the market, but this recipe yields enough that you’ll be eating it in various forms for days and days and make for a great food to freeze for later uses. In the end, it’s a very cheap meal for what you invest in it at the beginning.
The last thing to note is that the base recipe is vegan, but I tend to top off my chili with things that are decidedly NOT vegan, such as cheddar cheese and sour cream. If you want to keep it vegan, cilantro, onions, and avocado are a perfect topping for it.
Vegan Chili Recipe
- 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2 Carrots (organic) chopped
- 2 Celery (organic) sticks chopped
- 1 Yellow Onion (organic) chopped
- 1 Red Pepper (organic) chopped
- 1 Green Pepper (organic) chopped
- 6 Cloves of Garlic minced
- 12 C of water
- 1 1/2 C of Black Beans (dried)
- 1 1/2 C of Kidney Beans (dried)
- 1 Tbsp of Gluten Free Soy Sauce or Tamari
- 14 oz can of Fire Roasted Tomatoes
- 1 Tbsp Cumin powder
- 1 Tbsp dried Oregano
- 1 tsp Paprika
- 3 tsp Cocoa powder
- 3 Chipotle Chilis in Adobo sauce (depending on the heat you want, de-seed one or all three of these gorgeous chilis. Play with it. Start with de-seeding only 2 to see if this is hot enough. My experience is that you at least want 2 chilis with seeds added)
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Take the oil, carrots, celery, onion, red and green peppers along with the garlic and sauté until slightly softened. About 4-5 minutes.
- Add water, beans and the remainder of the ingredients into the slow cooker along with the sautéed veggies.
- Place slow cooker on high for 4 hours. Then place on low. Let cook for 12 hours. Yes… 12 hours! The longer and the slower the better. Stir and taste on occasion and salt and pepper to taste.
- The longer this sits the better. I take half and divide it up between several glass storage containers and freeze it, and then take the other half and use it for various meals through the week. It’s also great for a gathering.
- Garnish with avocado, chopped red onions, cilantro, cheese, sour cream or whatever else you fancy.
Yields at least 10 servings