Even Carnivores Will Love It: Vegetarian/Vegan Black Bean Chili

Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful…and meatless.

I’m a sucker for most kinds of chili, especially when the weather is cold and I’m craving that comforting bowl of rich goodness. Generally, I like meat of some sort in my chili, and in addition to my signature Holy Mole Turkey Chili, I make and enjoy all kinds of and meat and bean chilis. In the last couple of weeks we’ve been taking a more healthy road around here as you may have noticed, and the other day I remembered a recipe I used to make long ago for a rather delicious, and quite frugal, black bean chili. This chili is completely vegetarian (I think it might actually qualify as vegan (!), even), and the toppings for it can be customized to your desires. I like to stick with the veggie and cheese variety of toppings to let the beans shine through.

This recipe takes a couple of days to pull together due to the soaking and cooking of the beans, but it’s well worth the effort and makes a goodly amount of chili. You can it eat on it for several days, use it as a fine company dish for a casual Sunday supper, or have some leftovers to freeze. And best of all, it’s so hearty, you’ll never miss the meat, cross my heart! xo

Vegetarian/Vegan Black Bean Chili
(Makes 8-10 servings)Β 

4 cups of dried black (turtle) beans, rinsed well
2 Tablespoons of olive oil
2 large green bell peppers, chopped (yes, green)
2 large onions chopped
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
2 generous Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried crumbled basil
2 teaspoons dried crumbled oregano
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or you can use a bit more to taste)
3 cups water
2-4 oz. cans of diced green chilies
1 cup tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Mix and Match for Vegan or Use Them All Garnishes for Vegetarian Chili:
Chopped tomatoes
Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Grated extra sharp cheddar or monterey jack cheese
Sour Cream

Exhibit A: This is what you DON”T do… put black beans to soak in a white mixing bowl!

Place the beans in a large pot with enough water to cover by 3 inches and soak them overnight. (See exhibit A of what not to soak them in!) Drain the beans and rinse, then return them to the pot and cover with another 3 inches of water. Bring them to a boil, skim off the foam (see exhibit B), reduce to simmer and cook until tender, about 2 hours. Drain well.

Exhibit B: Be sure to skim off all of that nasty foam when the beans first start to boil, otherwise you’ll have cooked beans with a film on them. I DID remember this!

Heat the oil in a heavy dutch oven or a stock pot over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onion and garlic, and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, basil, oregano and cayenne to the pot and cook the spices, stirring constantly, about 2 more minutes. Add the beans, 3 cups water, canned chilies, tomato sauce, tomato paste and stir, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for about 45 minutes until the chili is thick, stirring occasionally. Add the lime juice and season to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with your favorite garnishes.

Just look at the color of that soaking liquid. Purple socks, anyone?

Note: If you need to naturally dye anything, you could use the soaking water from the black beans to do it, resulting in a nice purpley blue color! How’s that for waste not?

A bowl full of chili love.

And you can give me love me on Facebook, too! Just click that little box on the right hand side of my home page to “Like” me there, please!


52 thoughts on “Even Carnivores Will Love It: Vegetarian/Vegan Black Bean Chili

  1. We share a fondness for all things chili, Betsy, and today you posted a great recipe! I especially like you array of garnishes for I’ll often use any number of them on, or mixed into, a bowl of chili. And as much as I might like a meat-based chili, a good vegetarian version can, and is, just as satisfying, maybe even more so. I’ll often go for another serving because, “Hey, it’s meat-free! Gotta be low-cal. Right?” πŸ™‚


    • Gotta be! πŸ™‚ I love to mix in the garnishes, too, John, and also dip into the whole thing and eat it with tortilla chips…but am trying to wean myself off of that particular tortilla chip habit. So glad you like the recipe!


    • Gosh, turtle beans are common as dirt here these days. I hope you can find some in Andaluza, but yes, I’m sure this could be adapted to your favorite pulse pretty easily. We’re trying to eat more pulses…they’re so good for you and tasty, too! πŸ™‚


  2. Hi Betsy – I *love* beans. I often find that popping open a can of them is easiest because they require so much forward planning otherwise, but they’re fantastic. I really love vegetarian meals – I think the belief that many people have that you have to eat meat with every meal is just … bizarre. I like feeling sometimes that I’m chowing down on something completely meat-free. You chili looks wonderful – so rich and deep coloured and the topping looks great too!


    • Hi Charles – like you, I usually just pop open a can of beans, especially now that we can so easily get them minimally processed and with no saltβ€”they’re just so darn convenient. Then every great once in awhile I go and cook some dried beans “from scratch” and realize how much tastier they are and better textured than the canned ones and I chastise myself for being a bit lazy (and more often than not lacking in forward planning)! πŸ™‚ Thanks for your compliments and I hope you’ll give this a try sometime….you could probably make it with canned and rinsed black beans and it would work just fine, too!


  3. This looks so pretty in the bowl, Betsy. I once won an award for the worst chili at a work-sponsored cook-off. They tasted my black bean chili last, getting the stuff that was cooling and sticking to the bottom of the pot — I have never made it since!


    • Thank you, Sharyn. That’s a terrible story and no wonder you haven’t made it since. It’s true, black bean chili isn’t at its best after sitting in a pot for too long becoming glue. Which raises a good point…the stirring of this chili while it’s cooking is quite necessary to insure that it doesn’t stick to your pot and make clean up really difficult!


    • Okay, I just laughed out loud at that!

      Hmmm, yes, perhaps not the best thing to eat on Valentine’s Day for sure. All I can say is this version has less undesirable aftereffects than when using canned beans, but still may need a romance warning label attached! πŸ™‚


  4. I like that even though this is vegetarian, it looks really rich. Thanks for sharing your Holy Mole Turkey recipe with me also — now I can’t decide which to try first! You’ve also inspired me to buy some Monterey Jack cheese….I always forget to pick some up but it goes so well with chili.


    • You’re spot on, Barb. It is really rich for a straight up bean and veg dish. Of course the garnish takes it over the top. I wish we’d had some Monterey jack on hand…I think it adds more to it than the cheddar, but both are good, it’s just the the jack is creamier…so less of a need for sour cream if you’re counting calories!


    • Yes, Jed, I still do really love meat, but whenever I get on the veg bent, I realize just how much more I taste and enjoy the meat when I eat it if you know what I mean. I hadn’t had meat of any kind for 5 days and had some turkey tonight and it tasted completely different from my usual perception of it. Next time, I may actually have to have a steak! πŸ˜‰


    • It is great for a cold winter’s night for sure Charlie Louie. And, it also has a meaty quality to it that I don’t really get from black beans prepared in the usual or cuban way. Guess it’s the extra veg and spice….or maybe those toppings! πŸ˜‰


    • Thank you, Kay! I used to not be a big fan of beans until I realized they could be so versatile and that it’s all about how you prepare them. Plain beans don’t do much for me, but in chili’s, stews and cassoulet…now that’s worth eating!


    • I agree, Yummy, really good vegetarian chili can be a challenge. Most of the time it’s too bland for me. This chili isn’t overly spicy, but it has a nicely balanced savory flavor which is really enhanced by the garnishes. Add some tortilla chips and you’ve almost got vegetarian nachos!


    • Tortilla chips are definitely the way to go here, Bam, you’ve got the right idea! I have to watch myself because all I want to do is scoop and eat and the next thing I know I’ve gone through half a bag. What a great compliment, thank you, and I’m glad I made you hungry!


  5. Hi Betsy, traveling has put me way behind reading your posts. You have been busy making some great sounding dishes. A bowl of this chili will be great when we are back in cold country. And you savory bread pudding…yum.


    • Hi Karen, I know it’s hard to keep up, isn’t it? Even if you’re not traveling! πŸ™‚ I appreciate you stopping by and your nice comments. Both these dishes are good for chilly nights, and I think we still have a few ahead before Spring arrives. So glad you’re having a great trip and safe travels to you!


    • Hi Eva, and you’re correct…that was some nasty foam. Most dried beans will do that when you cook them, and oddly more so after soaking, in my experience. Black-eyed peas…same thing, though the black beans did have a lot more foam, but then I was using more beans that I might otherwise for a different recipe. Just the same, skim the foam and all will be well, plus you drain them and start again for the actually chili part. If you were going to make this in a crock pot, I’d used drained canned beans, or cook these and then make the chili…but at that point, I wouldn’t want to wait for the crock pot! πŸ™‚


    • This is definitely not an enticing dish for very hot weather, Brydie! If you like the black beans and want something cooling, check out my black bean mango salad under the Index of recipes section. It’s kind of a cool salad equivalent of this dish, one that you can dip chips into it, too or have as a side with grilled entrees. I haven’t blogged about it yet, but it’s there! πŸ™‚


  6. I like to have a few meatless meals a week and this looks so filling and good I agree everyone would love this!! I also like to make dishes that I know will hold up good for a few days worth of yummy leftovers!!


    • Thank you Linda! πŸ™‚ We are trying to do that on a more regular basis for health reasons and also because veggies just taste good. I do enjoy meat, too, but think we get into overdrive during the holidays….at least around here!


  7. Black beans are one of my favorites! I learned to love them when visiting a friend in Costa Rica.

    Just in case you haven’t figured this out already… a quick soak with some white vinegar will remove the stains in your bowl from the black beans. It also helps to use a microfiber cloth for the tougher spots. BTW, this trick works on stains in your crock pot too!

    Going to try your recipe this week. Sounds delicious! ~ Lynda


    • Hi Linda! Thanks so much for the tips and for visiting me! I hadn’t thought of vinegar and should have…really appreciate that! πŸ™‚

      Let me know how you like the recipe if you try it…I never got to freeze any because we ate every bit. I’m going to pop over and see what you’re up to right now. Cheers! ~Betsy


  8. Pingback: Super Easy Vegan Chili « Enjoying Each Moment

  9. Pingback: Part Three: Chilis, Chowders and Some Extra Ideas for Enjoying Them. | bits and breadcrumbs

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