October 11, 2011

Vegan MoFo Day 11 - Campfire Chili!

It seems like every good little vegan has their own recipe for vegan chili, but I made up a batch the other night that I thought was worth mentioning. The Red Merlot beans I'd purchased at Smorgasburg were burning a hole in my cupboard and I thought chili would be a great way to showcase them. I soaked them and some pinto beans for a few hours, tossed in the veggies and spices I thought would get along best with the beans, and also added some Texturized Soy Protein (TSP). 

If you're not familiar with TSP, it's made from de-fatted soy flour, it has as much protein as meat, and it's fat-free. Bazinga! TSP is dehydrated, so you have to let it sit in some water and re-hydrate before using. After that, you can pretty much toss it into anything and, much like tofu, it absorbs the flavors of whatever you're cooking it with. It comes in smaller granules and larger chunks - I used the granules here. It's super easy to use and was basically undetectable in this chili. I didn't mention to Johnny that I'd used TSP (he sometimes gets skeeved out by unknown ingredients before he even tastes them) and he certainly didn't notice anything awry. In fact, he ate two bowls of this chili and loved every bite!

I call this "Campfire Chili" because the rich, smoky, tomato-ey sauce and the slight spiciness would be perfect on a camping trip, but it's just as good snuggled under a blanket on the couch at home.

Oh, and a little note about the beans - I used dried beans because they're crazy cheap and it feels more hands on to cook my own beans that getting them out of a can. If you do use dried beans, make sure to soak them first and try cooking them with some dried kombu. Kombu is a type of seaweed and it makes the beans easier to digest. You won't be able to taste the kombu in the beans and you'll toot a whole lot less than you would otherwise!

Campfire Chili
Serves 8

1 1/2 cups dried beans of your choice (I used Red Merlot and pinto)
1-2" kombu (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 pint mushrooms, chopped
1 carrot, cut into coins
2 tbsp chili powder (I used Ancho chili powder)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp liquid smoke
4 cups water
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 avocado (optional)

Pick through your dried beans and soak them in water in a large bowl  for at least 6 hours. The beans will double in volume, so make sure your bowl is big enough and you add enough water. After they've soaked and softened, drain the soaking liquid and place the beans in a large pot. Add enough water to cover and a few pieces of kombu - this is optional, but the kombu will make the beans easier to digest. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  The beans should still be a bit firm, but not crunchy.

Drain the beans and set them aside. In the same large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the carrots and mushrooms and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. When everything has softened, add the spices and liquid smoke, stirring to coat everything. In a separate container (I use a large glass measuring cup) whisk together the 4 cups water, bouillon and tomato paste until combined. Add the beans back into the pot and pour in the broth mixture.

Bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover. Allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or just until the beans have cooked through and the flavors have married. Serve with avocado sliced or diced on top.


  1. That looks like one delicious bowl of comfort food!

  2. Thanks, Mandee! It was quite delicious and oh-so-healthy!