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Best Vegan Chili
Source: Cook's Illustrated, Better Vegan  Category: Vegan Soups and Stews
Prep Time: 30 min  Cook time: 3 hrs 12 min  Total Time: 3 hrs 42 min  Serves 6 to 8
About this recipe
There are many vegan chili recipes around, but this one is the best I found so far. Most of the vegan chilis lack flavor, texture and substance, which in a regular chili comes from meat. Adding ground walnuts and shiitake mushrooms helps achieve this taste, and coconut oil and tamari add smoothness and savoriness to this chili. Of course, I had to make some changes to the recipe to make it gluten-free, and I am not done with it yet, but overall I am very happy with the result. All of our testers, including non-vegans, absolutely loved this chili and were surprised by how close it tastes to the meat version of this dish.

1 pound (2 1/2 cups) dried beans, picked over, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed (try Hunza Organic Pinto Beans) and Bob's Red Mill Cannellini Beans )

2 dried ancho chiles (try Dried Ancho Chiles Peppers El Molcajete Brand)

2 dried New Mexican chiles (try Dried Mexican California (Anaheim) Chiles El Molcajete Brand)

½ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped coarse

4 tsp. dried oregano

1 cup walnuts, lightly toasted (I use Kirkland Signature Walnuts)

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved

3 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 - 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons organic, gluten-free tamari (I use SAN-J -TAMARI-REDUCED SODIUM [Gluten Free] (Organic) 10OZ[1PACK])

¼ + 1 Tbsp. cup coconut or avocado oil (I use Kirkland Signature Cold Pressed Unrefined Organic Virgin Coconut Oil)

2 pounds onions, chopped fine

2 large Portobello mushrooms, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. ground cumin

6 cups water

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Pink Himalayan Salt (I use Sherpa Pink Himalayan Salt, 2lbs Extra-Fine Grain)

1. Prepare the ingredients.


2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange anchos and New Mexican chiles on rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and puffed, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool, about 5 minutes. Stem and seed anchos and New Mexican chiles. Working in batches, grind toasted chiles, mushrooms, and oregano in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle until finely ground.


3. Process walnuts in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl. Process drained tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeño(s), garlic, and tamari in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.

4. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add ground chile mixture and cumin; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rinsed beans and water and bring to boil. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 45 minutes.

5. While the beans are in the oven, heat 1 Tbsp. in a medium-size skillet over medium heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute until mushrooms are tender and start to brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool, then transfer to a food processor and finely process. The mixture should resemble the consistency of ground beef.


6. Remove pot from oven. Stir in ground walnuts, tomato mixture, reserved tomato juice and mushrooms. Cover pot and return to oven. Cook until beans are fully tender, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

7. Remove pot from oven, stir chili well, and let stand, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve. (Chili can be made up to 3 days in advance.)

This recipe calls for whole dried chiles, but it can be prepared with jarred chili powder. If using chili powder, grind the shiitakes and oregano and add them to the pot with 1⁄4 cup of chili powder in step 4.
It is also recommended to use a mix of at least two types of beans, one creamy (such as cannellini or navy) and one earthy (such as pinto, black, or red kidney). For a spicier chili, use both jalapeños.
Equipment needed:
Serving suggestion:
Serve the chili with lime wedges, Vegan Sour Cream, diced avocado, chopped red onion, and shredded vegan Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, if desired.
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