Unfortunately, I’m not the type of person who can eat spicy food. If I do, I’ll end up like Harry and Lloyd in Dumb & Dumber, squirting ketchup, mustard, and any other condiment to cool off my mouth. Or even worse, I’ll end up like Reuben in Along Came Polly and sweat profusely. So, when I’m eating out I rarely order chili or I at least annoy the server with questions regarding its hotness: On a scale from 1 to 10, how hot would you say the chili is? Are chili peppers and jalapenos used? Can I taste a sample? Because I get eye rolls from both the server and whomever I’m eating with, I try to refrain from ordering chili altogether.
But the fact is I love everything about chili: veggies, beans, flavor. It’s hearty and perfect after a day of skiing, ice climbing, or winter running. And, it’s one of those meals that only requires one pot and one hour. Easy preparation, easy cooking, and easy cleaning.
Since I’m spending Christmas with my partner’s meat-eating (and I mean meat-eating) family, I decided we all could use a hefty veggie dish. (Of course, while I was cooking my vegetarian chili, my “brother-in-law” was making bacon wrapped venison, but that’s another story). I decided to make vegetarian chili with tempeh. I adapted this recipe from a number of google searches and my own tastes. It was a big hit, even among the bacon and venison eaters! And, it has a lot of flavor without being too spicy (no sweating involved). In other words, it’s “chill chili.”
Here’s what you’ll need to serve about 8:
2 packages of tempeh (I used soy tempeh)
4 tablespoons of soy sauce
2 onions, chopped
3 bay leaves
1 tablespoon ground cumin
3 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon salt
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 green, yellow, or red bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (4 ounce) cans chopped green chili peppers, drained
3 (28 ounce) cans whole peeled tomatoes, crushed
ground black pepper
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained
1 (15 ounce) can black beans
1 (15 ounce) can whole kernel corn
Here’s what you do:
1. In a bowl, crumble your tempeh and mix with soy sauce, set aside.
2. Heat olive oil over medium heat and toss in onions and garlic. After a few minutes, season with bay leaves, cumin, oregano, and salt. Then, add celery, bell peppers, and chili peppers. Let simmer for about 5 minutes.
3. Mix in tempeh. Cover and let simmer for 5 minutes.
4. Toss in tomatoes, all beans, chili powder (I used about 1/3 cup), and black pepper. Mix well, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes.
5. Stir in corn and let simmer for 5 more minutes. Then, taste and season as need be! I added a bit more salt and pepper at the end.
Serve with some warm cornbread or biscuit!