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Vegetarian Chili Con Carne

Let’s make some vegetarian chili con carne! When the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, it makes many of us feel inspired to do a little spring cleaning! As we are beginning eating fewer warm foods like stews, casseroles and soups and begin thinking more about lighter foods like salads, sandwiches and foods on the grill! In today’s blog post, I was challenged by my friends at the Recipe Redux to look in my pantry, fridge and freezer to create a delicious, healthy dish! So, to do this I enlisted a little help from my resident superhero, my husband!

Asheville Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Denise Barratt's pantry

If you have been a reader of my blog, you may have noticed that I use a very flexible approach to health and recipes. I often share lots of different ways that you can garnish the recipes or serve them. I also like to experiment with things to see what happens. My husband on the other hand, is usually very methodical and almost scientific

in his approach to cooking and baking which makes it easy understand why his pizza and homemade bread are perfect. We are a good team when coming up with fun new recipe ideas. I have been wanting to share his chili recipe on my blog for quite some time and with the pantry challenge, I asked him if I could share his secret recipe! We usually have the ingredients in our pantry to make it all fall and winter long.

I have a rule in our house after Memorial Day and before Labor Day, and I lobby not to make chili until the weather cools (which makes me realize maybe I am not always the flexible one about some things). So now that the weather is getting warm, it is time to start clearing out the pantry of all the chili staples!

Dried Chilies Great Staple for the Pantry
The secret ingredient for my husband’s super hero dried pepper recipe is his selection of dried Mexican chilies and he often likes to add to the complexity by toasting them.
Chili Paste
My husband simmers the dried peppers in a little bit of water to re-hydrate them. After they have cooled to touch, he purees them in the food processor to make a paste.

After the peppers are toasted, he simmers them in water to soften them and then adds them to a food processor to make his secret, super hero pepper puree.

Healthy Recipe Made with Ingredients Found in Pantry
Then he lets his chili simmer on the stove is one of the secret ingredients to adding lots of flavors to this chili.

Recipe for Vegetarian Chili Con Carne

Super Hero’s Chili

I named this recipe in honor of my husband who is actually has the same name as a famous super hero! Don’t be afraid of the long ingredient list, once you hydrate the peppers it comes together quickly in this one pot dish.

This plant-based chili recipe uses beans and textured vegetable protein (but you can also use tempeh or plant meat). It is so flavorful that you will not miss the meat! If you do not have canned beans in your pantry and you have dried beans, cook them ahead of time. They will also work well in the recipe. Use caution handling the peppers, you can use gloves, tongs or just try not to handle them.

Makes 8 servings

5 dried ancho peppers

5 dried guajullos peppers

3-4 dried d’arbol peppers

1 onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic minced

1 cup coffee (leftover from breakfast)

1 bottle of beer (whatever is in the fridge)

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground clove

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 tablespoon freshly ground cumin

Start out with 1/2 teaspoon of salt, but taste at the end to see if need more

If you want an added kick finely chop 2 chipotles in adobo, finely with sauce

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 ounce bakers chocolate

1/2- 1 cup frozen corn

1 large can, 40.5 ounce kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 small can, 15 ounce, kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 small can 15 ounce, black beans, rinsed and drained

28 ounce crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup textured vegetable protein (but you can also used cooked, crumbled tempeh or other protein)

Add vegetable broth or water, if needed


I garnished the chili with a little yogurt, thinly sliced kale, sliced grape tomatoes, a little cheddar chip and corn chips. (It’s what was in the pantry and fridge!)

Get a large stock pot ready to simmer the chili. Toast dried peppers in a skillet on medium until you begin to smell a little smoking flavor.Turning them once. It should take about 10 minutes.

Simmer the toasted peppers in a saucepan in 2 cups of water to re-hydrate them for about 15 minutes. While the peppers are simmering, chop the onions, mince the garlic and additional peppers if available. Sauté these veggies in olive oil until they are browned (add vegetable broth or water anytime if the chili pot is getting too dry during the process). 

Add the cinnamon, cloves, allspice, coriander and cumin, gently toast. Begin opening the cans and rinse and drain the beans. Add the cans of beans and tomato to the onion mixture. Add coffee and add beer then gently simmer.

Add in the texturized vegetable protein. After the peppers and water have cooled to touch, puree them in the food processor to make a paste. You might need to do several rounds. Add this pepper puree. Simmer chili for at least 45 minutes.

Taste chili to see if it needs additional if it needs more heat, add the chipotle peppers in adobo. When the chili is almost done, add the corn and the baker’s chocolate. Allow it not to melt. (Being careful not to burn chocolate). Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Make Some Vegetarian Chili con Carne

I hope that this plant-based Chili will become your new favorite! It is so full of flavor and texture that you will not even miss the meat! I am so thankful that my husband takes the time to make lots of good things to eat and I am so happy that he was willing to his secret recipe as long as I did not share his superhero identity.

If you are fortunate to know him, you know that he is a modest kind of guy. I am so happy that you stopped by to see what’s cooking! If this is your first time welcome and if you have come by before-thank you so much and please share this recipe with a friend! You can read more about me here!

And if you are looking for some additional vegetarian recipes, you can find more here!

Pantry Staple Chili
If you still have some spring cleaning to do in your pantry after making this chili, check out some of the other great ideas from my friends at Recipe Redux!
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