Monday, June 06, 2016

Vegetarian Chili

This recipe is an enhancement of the "Country Chili" recipe on a package of "Bob's Red Mill" texturized vegetable protein (TVP). While this recipe was surprisingly good, the TVP tasting and feeling as good or better than chili recipes with beef and turkey, it didn't have enough vegetables. As it was, "Bob's" recipe would have served more than ten people which it claimed. The hardest part about this dish is that it tastes so good, you won't want to stop eating it. You might want to freeze some if there's any left after the first day or two.

Serves more than 10 people.

Preparation time: A bit under two hours.


  • 2 cups boiling water (to reconstitute the TVP)
  • 2 cups Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup (optional and really not at all necessary)
  • 2 Tbsp. oil (for frying vegetables and to include the taste of fat which a lot of Earthlings crave)
  • 2 large onions, chopped (Bob called for one, but that wasn't enough)
  • 3 green peppers, chopped coursely (one wasn't enough)
  • 3 or 4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • whatever other vegetables hanging around which might work. E.g., some people like corn when it's not GM, brussel sprouts, and/or asparagus
  • 1 Jalapeño pepper, chopped (optional) (something from a jar is okay)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder (less, if you're using genuine Indian chili powder)
  • 2 tsp. cumin, powdered
  • 2 tsp. oregano, minced
  • tsp. cayenne pepper (optional... I found it wasn't really needed)
  • a few tablespoons of olive oil (for frying things)
  • several dashes of dark soy sauce
  • 2 28-oz. cans of whole stewed tomatoes, or just one can of that and one can the same size of tomato sauce
  • 2 or 3 cups dried red kidney beans, cooked, probably in a pressure cooker. (You could substitute 2 16-oz. cans of them, but canned kidney beans are noticeably inferior.)

Cooking the kidney beans

If you're using canned kidney beans, then of course you can skip this step and jump down to While the kidneys are cooking.

First you'll want to start cooking the kidney beans in the pressure cooker. They'll need at least 3½ times their volume of water, better more than not enough. So 3 cups of kidney beans will need at least 10½ cups of water. Sprinkle in a bit of salt or soy sauce. Though in her Recipes for a Small Planet Frances Ewald Buchman says that twenty minutes is sufficient to cook kidney beans in a pressure cooker, I find they need at least 35 minutes of actual cooking time to get beyond chewy to soft. It will take about ten minutes for the cooker to come up to temperature and, after cooking for 35 minutes where the pressure cooker's top is levitated, hissing, and twirling, another half hour or so for the cooker to cool down. This 1¼ hours is about the time you'll need to wash and cut up and then sauté the vegetables and do a few other things in this recipe.

If you don't have a pressure cooker, then you'll need to soak the beans overnight. The next day cook them in a pot with a tight lid on for two hours.

While the kidneys are cooking

Wash and then dice the vegetables. This is vegetarian (actually vegan) chili, so I like to cut them into pieces larger than the kidney beans. The garlic, however, should be chopped quite fine.

When the kidneys beans are almost done and the pressure cooker ready to open, put the TVP in the largest bowl you have. Add in the ketchup, a few dashes of dark soy sauce, and the powdered spices (i.e., not the garlic). Boil two cups of water and pour it in and stir it around just to get everything wet and mixed together. Set it aside for ten minutes or so.

During that ten minutes sauté the vegetables in oil in a big frying pan on medium-low heat, sprinkling with salt and pepper and adding in garlic towards the end so it gets cooked a bit too. Vegetables should be cooked just enough to remove their hard crunch, but not so much that they become limp. Onion is best sautéd just to the point that it is translucent.

When the kidney beans are done

When the pressure cooker has lost its steam and it's okay to open it, take a look and taste inside. The beans should be soft and moist. If instead they're dry and chewy, cook them some more, adding water if the water level doesn't cover the beans. If the beans are still immersed in cooking water, that's fine. Even a couple cups of water is okay. The TVP will soak up a lot of water. If there's more than a couple cups of cooking water covering the beans, pour some off.

When the kidneys are cooked properly, add into the pressure cooker on top of them the vegetables and the TVP and spice mixture. (If you're not using a pressure cooker, then put the cooked, or canned, kidney beans into a large (6-quart minimum) stew pot. Then add in the stewed tomatoes and/or tomato sauce. If you're using tomato sauce, just pour it in. If you're using whole tomatoes, cut them into small chunks as you add them. Pour in the juice from the can too. Start up the heat again and stir everything around. This should look like chili now. You just need to heat it up and let it stew on low heat with the lid off for a half hour or so, stirring occasionally, to get it all piping hot through and through and let all those good flavors mingle.

Best served with cheese and crackers or some other Schmackrichtung of a blander variety.

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