Quick, Hearty Vegetarian Chili
When the weather gets chilly, nothing satisfies quite like a hearty bowl of vegetarian chili. Thanks to plant based ground, this chili satisfies even the most devoted carnivores; and, it’s fast and easy enough for a busy weeknight!
When cold weather hits, my first instinct is to hunker down and hibernate. Of course, that’s not possible. But, the next best thing is a hearty, cozy one pot meal that warms you up from the inside out.
My personal favourite is a big bowl of chili. There’s nothing that satisfies quite like beans, mince, and warming spices. Plus, chili plays nicely with a variety of family favourite condiments — pico de gallo, guacamole, and buttermilk cornbread, to name a few.
As flavourful as chili is, it’s also surprisingly easy to prepare. With a few pantry staples, mere minutes of hands-on effort, and just one pot, you can have a hearty, healthy, delicious meal on the table in under an hour. That’s a winner!
The other thing I love about chili is that it freezes beautifully. By doubling the batch and freezing half, you can easily get a head start on another busy day!
What Is Mexican Chili Powder?
Mexican style chili powder is a product I took for granted until I lived overseas. If you live in the North America, you’ve probably got chili powder in the spice aisle as well as the international food section of your local market. However, outside North America, chili powder is often just ground hot pepper of one sort or another.
Whether you live in a country where Mexican chili powder is readily available or not, blending your own is always a good idea.
Creating homemade spice blends not only saves money, it also gives you a lot more control over the final flavour of your dishes. Plus, custom blends allow you to tailor seasonings to your own family’s tastes.
So, if you haven’t got a Mexican market around the corner, never fear. You can create a homemade chili blend with whichever dried chilis are available in your area. The essential thing is to seek a balance of flavours — hot, smokey, and sweet or fruity.
My preferred chilis are anchos, guajillos, and cayenne. Ancho chilis add a sweet, smokey flavour to the blend. Guajillos contribute a unique fruitiness, and cayenne peppers add heat.
If you don’t have access to these specific chilis, don’t worry. Experiment with chiles that are available locally. Chinese and Indian markets can be a good place to start. Talk to the proprietors about the flavours of the various chilis on offer, and have fun creating your own blend.
Chipotle chilis are becoming more widely available, and their rich, smokiness works brilliantly in chili powder. Kashmiri chilies, on the other hand, contribute a mild heat and bright red colour. Smoked paprika can also be tasty in chili powder. Use my template (below) and create your own special blend that will make your chili unique and delicious!
About This Recipe
This is a very simple recipe. The only trick to it is browning the onions. Taking the time to brown the diced onions creates an additional layer of rich flavour. It does take a few extra minutes. However, it is time very well spent.
Can I Make the Beans from Scratch?
Of course you can! One 400 g tin of beans contains about 2 cups of cooked beans. You will want to include approximately 1/2 cup of cooking liquid (or water, if you haven’t reserved the liquid) for each 2 cups of cooked beans you add to the recipe.
Can I Use Different Beans?
Absolutely! Feel free to use your preferred beans — or the ones you have in your cupboard. The only beans I don’t recommend are chickpeas. They have a unique texture and flavour that doesn’t really go with this dish. However, black beans, navy beans, butter beans, or red speckled sugar beans would all work well. Feel free to experiment. That is one of the joys of cooking!
What Is Mexican Oregano?
Mexican oregano (latin name: lippia graveolens) is a dried green leafy spice which is actually a member of the verbena family. It has a mild, grassy flavour which is quite different from the taste of Italian oregano. It’s flavour is closer to that of marjoram. However, if you don’t have Mexican oregano, you can use either marjoram or Italian oregano in its place with tasty (if not authentically Mexican) results.
I hope your family enjoys this simple recipe every bit as much as mine does. Bon appétit!