Chili, always a cause of debate. Should it have beans? All meat and tomatoes, rice, quinoa? This is my favorite chili recipe. It’s simple, packed with flavor and vegetarian friendly. I love it because it’s dense enough to be a meal for 4-6 people without adding any meat! However, you can easily cook up a pound of your favorite ground meat (beef, turkey, chicken) and add it to the chili while it is simmering away, but I promise you don’t have to! This recipe is vegan, gluten free, grain free and dairy free.
This recipe was a staple for me in college and my first few years of working. It’s very inexpensive and very hearty. I’ve made many versions of this chili, but this base recipe is the best in my opinion! The best part, I can make a huge batch of this chili for about $5. I tend to stock up on essentials when they have sales. Red kidney beans, black beans, canned tomatoes, frozen peppers. Anytime these are on buy one get one free, I buy at least 4 of each.
During college, I really wanted to learn to cook for myself. My goal was to be able to make wholesome vegetarian foods that I could sustain off of while in class all day. I commuted to school about 30 minutes each way and often had class over the span of a day. While the cafeteria was available, it didn’t offer many vegetarian options, and the ones it did were your “usual” vegetarian fair: pasta, pizza, small salad bar. The food was also pretty expensive, so I did what I could to bring meals to heat up instead. I quickly got tired of eating various versions of spaghetti and salad usually didn’t keep well in my bag. However, I discovered that if I brought a big container of chili in a thermos, it would stay warm until lunch! I often made rice or quinoa that I would add to this chili, which made it very filling and helped keep me full until I got home later that night.
Dave requested we have chili during the Packers/Cowboys play off game. He’s a huge Packers fan (from Wisconsin) so I knew this was not the time to be recipe testing! I knew my classic chili recipes would win him over, and I was right, he loved it! He made some ground beef to add to his chili after I portioned out a few servings for myself. It was freezing cold (high of 30’s, which in NC is pretty cold) and chili was exactly what we needed to warm ourselves from the inside out! I have to say, I forgot how much I love this recipe. It’s so easy to make, it tastes even better the next day and it’s super versatile.
Like I said, this is my base recipe, so if you like things spicier, add a sliced jalapeno to the pepper when they are sauteing. If you are a fan of having rice or quinoa with your chili, I would advice that you make it separate, as it tends to soak up the liquid, and the chili kind of loses it’s appeal.
- 1 package frozen sliced bell peppers, defrosted and chopped or 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 1 yellow or white onion minced
- 1 15 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes with jalapeno
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tbs. dark chili powder
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp salt
- 2 cups water
- 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- Chop onion and peppers. Add to a large soup pot over medium heat. Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally so onions don't burn.
- Add both cans of tomatoes, chili powder, cumin and salt. Allow to cook 3-4 minutes.
- Add water and both cans of beans.
- Allow this to come to a light boil, turn down to medium low and let cook 30-40 minutes until some of the water cooks off. Cook until chili is at your desired consistency.
- Serve with diced onion, avocado slices and cilantro.
- If you are going to make this not vegan, brown the meat and make sure it is cooked through. Add to the chili once it has met it's desired consistency. Cook 5 minutes to combine flavors.
- Store in a large glass bowl with a lid. The chili has a tendency to stain plastic, just FYI
What about you?
- Do you have a favorite food that you started making in college or early in your career?
- What is your chili like? Do you add beans?
- How do you like to serve your chili?