Vegan Chipotle Chili

I have been on a major comfort-food kick recently. I am guessing that this has something to do with a combination of factors, including (but not limited to): the colder weather, the shorter days, the general busy-ness of life, and the increasing frequency that I have been speaking out in the community.

Most of which are completely self-explanatory, except for perhaps the final one. That last factor is significant because, truth be told, I get nervous when speaking in front of a group of people. Don’t get me wrong: I’m good at public speaking. I’d just rather do my collocating, exhortating, educating and illuminating through writing. I like to take my time with the words and thoughts, allowing them to come together in their own time. If I can do this quietly while at home, next to the wood-burning stove and with my cat Fauxgerty on my lap, so much the better.

But far be it from me to turn down an opportunity to present my experiences and knowledge to the world, especially when there is a chance that my experiences and knowledge offer some potential for healing in the world, knock on wood. 

As a result, I have facilitated discussions on how to encourage and develop trans-inclusive language, how to make effective public service announcement videos, and how to come to terms with one’s gender identity, all within the last month. I have also been recently interviewed on multiple occasions by multiple media outlets on my experiences with bullying and surviving through struggles with depression (check out my previous “About Me” post to watch the video I made for the It Gets Better Project:

I am, above all, grateful for these opportunities to encourage discussions on these very important topics: however, I also tend to get very stressed out and nervous during the preparation and delivery of any sort of public speaking situations.

And, as I have said before and said again, the energy we take into our bodies has a direct effect upon the energy we have to give to the world. So, given all the busy-ness and stress, when I have gotten cravings for homemade comfort foods, I haven’t been holding back. And when it comes to chilly evenings, sometimes nothing beats a steaming bowl of spicy chili.

This is another failure-proof recipe. Use whatever veggies you want, as long as you use the same total volume that is called for in the recipe (if you decide to use spinach, be sure to cook it before you measure it! It cooks down a LOT). Also, for the most satisfying chili, be sure to leave the veggies in nice, big, hearty chunks.

There is one ingredient that may strike you by surprise: unsweetened chocolate. As I mention in the list of ingredients, vegans should be very mindful to select a vegan brand. Any 100% cocoa baking chocolate should be vegan, and is actually what I recommend most strongly: when you start getting into the 95% and under chocolates, you have to be sure to check what that other percentage consists of!

The chocolate melts completely into the broth, giving the finished chili a mole-like quality that is simply divine. Simply trust, and enjoy.

(A quick note to new new readers, which will also serve as a disclaimer for the photo below: no, I am not a vegan, hence the appearance of real sour cream and cheese on my bowl of chili. However, in my efforts to prepare foods with mindfully-selected ingredients, a large percentage of the foods I make are vegetarian and/or vegan. I hope that these recipes can be enjoyable to you, without there being any offense taken at the recipes that do include dairy, egg, and meat products….)

Vegan Chipotle Chili

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 c chopped onion (Spanish or Vidalia)
  • 1 c chopped carrots
  • 1 c chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 c green or yellow bell pepper
  • ½ of a head of garlic, chopped
  • Approx. ½ of a 7-oz. can of chipotles in adobo sauce (to taste), pulsed in a food processor until finely chopped (VEGANS: this is almost always vegan, but read the ingredients just in case! If you can’t find a brand that you are confident is vegan, just soak 2-3 dried chipotles in boiling water for 10-15 minutes, then dice.)
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 2 T cider vinegar
  • 10 whole black peppercorns, ground
  • ¼-1/2 t ground allspice, to taste
  • ¼-1/2 c ground cloves, to taste
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 2 t salt, or to taste
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • One 28-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • Three 16-oz. cans beans (I recommend one each of black beans, pink beans, and cannellini beans)
  • 1-3 c tomato juice
  • 1 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped (VEGANS: be mindful of what brand you get to ascertain it is, in fact, vegan: this can be omitted if you have any doubts)
  • 1 avocado, in bite-sized pieces (optional)
  • coarsely chopped cilantro (optional)
  • Sour cream (or vegan substitute, optional)
  • Shredded cheddar cheese (or vegan substitute, optional)
  • Cooked spaghetti (optional)
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pan. Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, until almost entirely translucent (but not quite). Add the carrots, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden, about 10 to 15 more minutes.
  2. Add the chipotles, chili powder, cumin, vinegar, pepper, allspice, cloves, bay leaves, salt, cinnamon, and cayenne. Cook for two to five minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Add the tomatoes, beans and 1 cup of the tomato juice. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and stir in the unsweetened chocolate. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally and adding tomato juice as needed, until the flavors are fully blended, AT LEAST 45 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
  4. Ladle into bowls (over cooked spaghetti, if you’d like: it’s yummy!) and serve with any combination of avocado, cilantro, sour cream and cheddar cheese that you desire.

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