Ultimate Veggie Chili

The best veggie chili you will ever eat. Guaranteed.

Ultimate Veggie Chili

The best chili you will ever eat. And SURPRISE! It’s vegan!

If you haven’t tried Anne’s ULTIMATE VEGGIE CHILI recipe, put this on your “Must Try” list ! It is easily the best veggie chili I have ever eaten. It has a fabulous rich, smoky flavor and  is packed with budget-friendly healthy protein in the form of beans and tofu.

This is a great make ahead recipe – we highly recommend freezing individual portions  to be handy during the upcoming holiday madness!

We originally featured it in our very first food collaboration, the co-authored cookbook, “101 Things To Do With Tofu”. A few months after it was published, Anne was chosen as a finalist for the Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown series two seasons ago, and she made it on to the show to compete and came in Second Place in her category! Last week I appeared on Utah’s Studio 5 to share the recipe, so I thought it warranted a repeat here.  — Donna

 Here is Anne’s story, a shot of her in action on the “Comfort Foods” episode, and the recipe:

I’ve worked on this recipe literally for years, fine tuning it and trying different ingredients and approaches. This version is the one that includes all of my favorite variations over the years. I love the combination of diced and crushed tomatoes, and I am partial to black beans and corn as a pair. I like this amount of spice, and the smokiness of the chipotle powder, but it goes without saying that you should adjust it as you please.

The cashews are probably the most unusual ingredient; I got that idea from a chili I used to eat regularly back in college, when I was a dance major at the Boston Conservatory. The Trident Bookstore & Cafe on Newbury Street had a very tasty veggie chili that included cashews – I loved both the texture and how they added a kind of additional meaty texture.



1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon each chipotle chili powder & crushed red pepper flakes
14 ounces extra-firm tofu, frozen and thawed
2 (14-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 (4-ounce) can diced jalapenos, drained
1 (4-ounce) can green chiles, drained
2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14-ounce) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 cup whole roasted cashews, diced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

In a large stockpot, saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are starting to soften. Stir in cumin, chipotle, and red pepper flakes. Crumble the thawed tofu into the mixture and saute 5 minutes more.

Reduce heat to medium. Add all tomatoes, jalapenos, green chiles, black beans, kidney beans, corn and cashews; mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

As the recipe stands, it’s an effortlessly vegan recipe. I personally prefer to add a little sour cream and grated sharp cheddar, but it stands alone perfectly well too, or you could use a vegan sour cream and/or cheese.

This is a great pantry recipe; only a few fresh produce items are called for, and as I said before, it really couldn’t be much easier. The one technique that might be new to a lot of people is the freezing, thawing and crumbling of the tofu. This is a crucial step! The freezing process causes the moisture within the tofu to separate from the soybean curd, which results in a denser, chewier texture, which is perfect for crumbling into any recipe you would normally use ground beef, turkey, sausage, etc. If you tried to crumble the tofu without freezing it first, the texture is much more like scrambled egg than ground meat.

Squeezing water from Frozen thawed tofu

Squeezing water from frozen & then thawed tofu

My favorite way to do this is, after defrosting the tofu, placing it in a clean dishtowel and wringing it out (see above), thus squeezing the water out and crumbling the tofu at the same time. I usually crumble it a bit more by hand after I open the towel, just to make sure it’s even –  and then right into the pot it goes!

A few other food bloggers’ veggie chilis that look fabulous enough to try:
Spicy Vegetarian Chili, Simply Recipes
Throw-in-a-Pot Vegetarian Chili, Kath Eats Real Food
Black and White Vegetarian Chili, Figs and Bri
Vegetarian Bean and Pumkin Chili, Tasty Eats at Home

— originally posted by Anne


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