Formula Meals: Plant-Based Chili
I’m all about simple recipes that are quick, delicious, and hard to mess up. That’s why most of my favorite recipes are formula meals – ones that don’t require an exact recipe, but rather a general formula that allows you to mix & match ingredients to make a meal!
I’ve created formulas for roasted vegetables, stir fries, power salads, and more – and next on my list is a winter favorite: plant-based chili.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of eating seasonally. Come winter time, I’m all about big, comforting bowls of chili. Today I’m sharing a super simple formula for making plant-based chili with your favorite ingredients – or whatever you have in the pantry and fridge! This recipe yield 4-6 servings.
Here’s My Plant-Based Chili Formula:
2 (15 oz) cans beans: This can be any beans you like. My favorite beans to use are black beans, pinto beans and dark red kidney beans, but feel free to get creative and experiment with different beans like cannelloni beans or even chickpeas.
1 cup dry lentils or grains: Feel free to mix and match and use your favorite lentils or grains because pretty much anything goes here. My go-to is brown rice because it gives the chili great texture, but you can use quinoa, millet, farro, or lentils too!
3-5 cups of veggies: I like to use a mixture of different types of veggies here. I always start with an onion, a bell pepper or two, and a few garlic cloves. You can also toss in some celery or fresh chile peppers. I’m always sure to mix in a cup or two of mushrooms because of their meaty texture. This is a great way to use up that bag of frozen corn in the freezer or the zucchini that’s been in your fridge for a day too long.
3-4 tablespoons seasoning: You’ll want to start with at least 2 tbsp of chili powder. If I have chipotle chili powder, I’ll use that, but regular chili powder works great too. Another go-to spice for me is a couple teaspoons of turmeric. From there, you can add garlic powder, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper and a pinch of cinnamon to give your chili some extra depth. I also like to add a dash of Worcestershire sauce for a smack of flavor!
1 (28 oz) can tomatoes: I like to use fire roasted diced tomatoes for some spice! Crushed tomatoes are nice too because they offer a nice texture. I often add a can of tomato paste here, too.
1-3 cups broth: Obviously, if you’re sticking to a 100% plant-based chili, you’ll want to use veggie broth. (But you can really use any broth you want!) You can even use also water if you’re in a pinch.
Toppings: This is my favorite part! I always add half of an avocado on top of my chili. You can also go for other creamy toppings like sour cream or shredded cheese. If you want to take your chili to the next level, add some pickled jalapeno peppers and a splash of fresh lime juice!
How To Prepare Your Plant-Based Chili:
- Soften your veggies. Add your veggies to a pot and saute them until soft and fragrant. Start with the onion and pepper for a few minutes and then add in your other veggies. (This will prevent softer veggies like zucchini from getting too soft.)
- Add spices. Add your salt and spices, then give the veggies a quick stir.
- Add your liquids and lentils/grains. Add your canned tomatoes and broth. You want to make sure that the veggies are just covered. Next, stir in your lentils/grains until well incorporated. Simmer until grains/lentils are fully cooked. The simmer time will depend entirely on the type of grains or lentils you choose.
- Mix in your cooked beans. Add your cooked beans (drained and rinsed if using canned) to the pot and stir until everything is well incorporated. Let simmer for an additional 5-10 minutes to let the flavors blend.
- Serve with toppings. Now that you have a fresh batch of plant-based chili, ladle it into bowls and top with your favorite toppings.
Looking For Some Plant-Based Chili Inspiration?
Below are a few of my favorite plant-based chili recipes. Use them for inspiration when you’re creating your own chili!
Vegan Beer Chili
Red Lentil, Sweet Potato, and Carrot Vegan Chili
Three Alarm Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
Creamy Vegetarian White Chili
Classic Vegetarian Chili