I’ve tried a lot of vegetarian chilis in my life. Most of them ok-ish. Some good. Some so bland you wondered how it was possible to create something with that little flavor. It seems to be one of those “go to” vegetarian items that you find in a lot of cafes and restaurants but just never seems to be executed with a lot of thought or heart. It almost seems like a chili recipe made by just leaving out the meat.
Which got me thinking, was it possible to create a knock-your-socks-off vegetarian chili with hearty flavor that didn’t leave people missing the meat? Well it turns out it is! After much experimentation and many “almost there” moments this is now my standard chili recipe. The one people ask for at potlucks and parties. The one for which people are constantly requesting the recipe. Mission accomplished.
The secret is chipotle in adobo chiles…smoked jalapeno chiles in a delicious canned red sauce. They add a smoky, rich flavor that really fills out the palette. They are typically used in Mexican/Latin cuisine for making sauces, chipotle mayonaise, rubs, etc. Don’t worry…they’re easy to find in any grocery store.
PREP: 20 mins. COOK: 45 mins.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 1/2 cups butternut squash (~1/2″ dice)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon chipotle in adobe chiles, seeds removed, finely minced
- 1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes
- 3 cups vegetable stock
- 3 15oz. can black beans, drained and rinced
- 3 cups swiss chard leafs, packed, coarsely chopped (~1 small bunch)
- sea salt
- black pepper
Topping ingredients (optional)
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 red onion, small, chopped
- 1 cup sour cream
- Heat large Dutch oven or pot over medium high-heat.
- Add oil and swirl to coat.
- Add onions and cook until tender. ~5 to 7 minutes
- Add garlic, spices and chipotle in adobo chilis and saute just until aromatic. ~1 minute
- Add butternut squash and stir through.
- Add crushed tomatoes, vegetable stock and black beans. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until squash is tender. ~25 minutes
- Add Swiss chard. Simmer until chard is tender but still bright green. ~5 minutes
- Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper.
The amount of chipotle in adobe chilis is completely adjustable to the amount of heat desired. Be sure slice the chipotle peppers in half and remove the seeds first. This allows for maximum flavor in proportion to the amount of heat. Anywhere between 1 teaspoon and 1 1/2 tablespoons. I also add some of the sauce from the can as an extra flavor boost without adding much additional heat.
Steps 1-6 happen at a somewhat rapid pace so it is best to have all of your ingredients prepped before you start. Trust me, it’ll make things a lot less stressful.
The type of stock you use will determine the amount of salt required for seasoning. We make our own (a little on the salty side) with Better Than Bouillon “No Beef.” It creates a little more complexity in the flavor. But it tastes great with any broth.