Chili is one of those foods that can be hard to explain to people who have never heard of it. It’s not soup… it’s not really stew, either. It’s just… chili.
I did eat my fair share of chili growing up, even in the Far North. Ma always made it with ground beef, kidney beans, and a spicy sauce.
Being the picky kid that I was, my favorite part of the dish was the cheddar cheese sprinkled on top, and the island of sour cream floating in the center of the bowl. Ma’s chili was always accompanied by corn bread, buttered.
Eventually I learned that the kidney beans were the real prize of the dish. The large reddish beans absorbed all the flavors of the onions and spices, which blended so nicely with the soft texture and mild flavor and texture of the beans.
Chili, Beans or No Beans?
When I moved to Texas as an adult, I became more curious about what locals had grown up eating. I found a few old church cookbooks at used book stores and started reading the recipes.
It was there that I discovered some truly awesome Texas dishes such as “West Of The Pecos” and “King Ranch Chicken Casserole.”
I also learned than in Texas, to make a real Texas-style chili you don’t add beans.
Beans are important enough that they ought to be served as a side dish, you see.
So I started making my own Texas-style chilis, sans beans. And well, at risk of sounding like a carpetbagger I think I actually like it more without the beans.
Vegan Chili Crumbles
In this recipe, you can use store-bought crumbles or homemade vegan taco meat.
This time I used the Earth Grown Vegan Beefless Crumbles which is found at Aldi. This was actually a bit tricky to locate in the store, but I eventually found them (and a load of other vegan frozen foods) in the chest freezer section. I believe that freezer may have had some labeling on it that said “Aldi Finds.”
I really like these crumbles, they have a great taste that goes well in pasta, tacos, pizza, and yes, even this chili!
Alternatively, you could use homemade tofu crumbles or even TVP. My vegan taco meat recipe is actually perfect for this chili and I think it has a meatier texture than any of the store bought crumbles I’ve tried.
In my recipe, I puree a few tomatoes and strain out the seeds/skins to add tomato to as the chili base.
I think you could use an 8oz can of tomato sauce as well. I like to make my own tomato sauce/juice since there’s no can to worry about afterwards. It’s difficult for me to access recycling facilities so I try to go package-free where I can.
Vegan Sour Cream Alternative
I like using mashed up avocado in place of sour cream. It adds the perfect creamy mix to the spicy, savory soup.
There is a good vegan sour cream substitute you can buy as well, called Tofutti. Tofutti has an unappetizing smell in the package, but once it’s in food I can’t detect the smell. It’s nice and creamy just like real sour cream.
Pro tip: add some lemon juice to Tofutti to give it more acidity! 🙂
I also add vegan mozzarella cheese to my chili once it’s in the bowl. This time, I used the Earth Grown Vegan brand which is available from Aldi. I found it in the refrigerated section with the rest of the shredded cheeses:
Vegan Chili Recipe
- 1 package crumbles or 3 cups vegan taco meat
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 onion
- 2 bell peppers
- 1 jalapeño pepper optional, omit if you don’t do spicy
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1/2 tsp chili powder optional, omit if you don’t do spicy
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 3 to matoes
- 1 cup beer you can substitute water
- Puree and strain the tomatoes. Set aside.
- Chop the onion, bell peppers, and jalapeño pepper into smaller pieces (pea sized). Dice the garlic.
- Saute all the chopped veggies in water in the Instant Pot on saute mode for 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 1 minute.
- Add the strained tomato liquid and spices, put the lid on the pot and set it to sealing. Pressure cook (or press manual) for 10 minutes. Allow pressure to release naturally for 20 minutes.
- Stir the vegan crumbles into the chili. Put the lid back on to get the crumbles heated up for about 5 minutes, then it’s ready to serve.
- Top with vegan cheese, vegan sour cream or avocado.