Best Vegetarian Chili


Best Vegetarian Chili (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook)
Takes a good 1.5-2 hours start to finish (Minus overnight soak), but makes 6-8 adult meal portions!


1 pound (2 1/2-cups) dried beans, picked over and rinsed ( I use pinto, black, kidney mix)
2 dried ancho chiles + 2 dried New Mexican chiles OR 3-4 tbsp ready made chili powder (+/- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper)
1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, ground to powder
1.5 tbsp dried oregano
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
1 (28-ounce) can diced or crushed tomatoes (depending on preferred texture)
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 jalapeƱos or serranos, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 pounds onions, chopped finely
3 cups water
2/3 cup medium-grind bulgur or 12 oz impossible meat/veggie meat crumbles
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels (optional)
cilantro, scallions, sour cream, lime, cheddar cheese, any other toppings you like


  1. Soak beans in water for 8 hours or overnight.

  2. Drain and rinse beans. Cook beans in instant pot (just enough water to submerge the beans) or boil on stovetop with enough water to cover. Add 1.5 tsp salt to water. I need 25 minutes or so in instant pot with 15 min natural pressure release, about 45-50 minutes simmering on stovetop.

  3. Make the spice mix. If using dried chilies- place in single layer on cookie sheet and bake in 250 degree oven for 5-10 minutes until puffed and fragrant. If there is a close heating element (like in a toaster oven), wrap loosely in foil to prevent scorching. Cut open, dump out seeds and gills, grind in spice grinder. Mix with oregano, mushroom powder, cumin, and set aside. OR Just mix the readymade chilli powder with the other spices set aside. For either option, can extra cayenne or chipotle pepper for spiciness.

  4. Toast walnuts at 300 degrees for 8-10 min, watching so they don’t burn. Cool briefly, then grind into a coarse meal (it adds texture to the chili).

  5. Cut up the onions, saute in 1/4 c oil on medium with 1 1/4 tsp sea salt in large dutch oven until just starting to brown, about 10 min. Add the jalapenos and garlic, saute another 2-3 min.

  6. Add dry spice mix to the veg and cook through a few more min.

  7. Once spices seem cooked and not dry/raw, add the can of tomatoes, soy sauce, and tomato paste. Add the strained beans, saving the water they were cooked in. Simmer for a few minutes. Add bean water if saltiness is needed, plain water if not- just enough to loosen the chili a little. depending on how much you need to loosen it up. If using bulgur, add now- let simmer for 15-20 min.

  8. If using Impossible meat, brown this separately just like you would beef until just done. Don’t over cook.

  9. Add walnuts, Impossible meat, and frozen corn kernels to the chili and cook at least another 15 minutes for all the flavors to mix. Season to taste w salt or more chili pepper if needed.

Serve with toppings of your choice. Makes 6 large or 8 typical services. Freezes well.

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