Best Vegetarian Chili (and idea Sunday meal prep recipe!)
America’s Test Kitchen explains why this recipe works:
Vegetarian chilis are often little more than a mishmash of beans and vegetables. In order to create a chili—not a bean and vegetable stew—we’ve found replacements for the different ways in which meat adds depth and flavor to chili. Walnuts, soy sauce, dried shiitake mushrooms and tomatoes add hearty savoriness. Bulgur fills out the chili, giving it a substantial texture. The added oil and nuts lend a richness to the chili, for full, lingering flavor… American Test Kitchen
We prefer to make this chili with 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.
We also recommend 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. Serve the chili with lime wedges, sour cream, diced avocado, chopped red onion, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, if desired.
1. Bring 4 quarts water, 3 tablespoons salt, and beans to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse well. Wipe out pot.
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 soy sauce in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed.
4. Heat oil in now-empty Dutch oven 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. Remove pot from oven. Stir in bulgur, ground walnuts, tomato mixture, and reserved tomato juice. Cover pot and return to oven. Cook until beans are fully tender, about 2 hours.
1 pound (2 1/2 cups) dried beans, picked over and rinsed
2 dried ancho chiles
2 dried New Mexican chiles
½ ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped coarse
4 teaspoons dried oregano
½ cup walnuts, toasted
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 – 2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and coarsely chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 pounds onions, chopped fine
1 tablespoon ground cumin
7 cups water
⅔ cup medium-grind bulgur (awesome complex carb! keep it for salads recipes)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro