Chili Non Carne with Kidney Beans (Veggie Chili Recipe)

Chili Non Carne with Kidney Beans (Veggie Chili Recipe) Recipe

Lya's school just served vegetarian chili for lunch and she begged me to replicate the meal she had this week. I was more than happy to oblige. To recreate the dish, I used store-bought vegetarian chorizo, red kidney beans, caramelized onions, unsweetened cocoa powder, tomatoes, crumbled firm tofu, roasted green bell peppers and jalapeños. I just mixed them in a crock pot and let the flavors simmer together.

I nested the chili in tortillas, added shredded cheese and secured them with little sticks decorated with cherry tomatoes. It’s not authentic Mexican cuisine, but it’s delicious and incredibly hearty.

Vegetarian Chili Recipe with Picture


Yields: 6 servings

2 (12-ounce) packages soy chorizo (click on the link for the homemade recipe)
4 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
1 yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1-½ teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon coriander seeds
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
½ teaspoon black peppercorns
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon red chili powder
1-½ tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 green bell peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
2 jalapeño green chile peppers, roasted, skinned, seeded and diced
9 ounces firm tofu (½ package), coarsely crumbled
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 pound plum tomatoes, blanched, peeled and diced
1 (14-ounce) can low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans
1 tablespoon onion chives, finely snipped
1 tablespoon avocado oil
12 tortillas (click on the link for the recipe)
1 cup cheddar cheese
¼ cup Cotija cheese
¼ cup sour cream (optional)
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 tablespoon cilantro (I used sweet basil), as garnish


Dry-toast the coriander seeds, cumin seeds and black peppercorns. Place them in a spice grinder with oregano, chili powder and paprika (I use a coffee mill that I keep exclusively for grinding spices) until it becomes a fine powder. Set the seasoning mix aside.

This step is optional but I find tomato skin unpleasant. Here's a neat method to peel tomatoes. Make a small, shallow criss-cross cut at the bottom of the fresh tomatoes using a bread knife (I use a bread knife because the blade won't bruise the fruit). Fill a small saucepan with cold water and bring to a boil. Place the tomatoes in the water and wait for at least 30 seconds. Remove the tomatoes quickly (I use a large strainer), then transfer to an ice cold bath to stop the cooking process. The skin of the tomatoes will come right off. Finely chop the tomato flesh. Set aside.

In a pan, heat the canola oil. Cook the onions for about 6-8 minutes until soft and nicely golden. Leaving as much oil as possible in the pan, transfer to a platter. Set aside.

In the same pan, add the minced garlic. Cook until slightly golden. Add the soy chorizo. Stir frequently. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and the seasoning mix. Set aside.

Transfer all the ingredients to the crock pot (except the cheeses, sour cream and onion chives). Cover with vegetable broth. Cover with a lid and cook for about 4 hours. For the last 30-45 minutes, open the lid and let the liquid thicken. Check seasoning. Season with more salt and pepper. Turn off the heat. Add onion chives. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of lime juice and avocado oil.

Ladle the chili into a large serving bowl.

Warm the tortillas and serve in a large platter with cheese on the side.

Let everyone assemble their own tortillas. Spoon chili onto the tortillas, cover with cheese. I garnished them with sweet basil and cherry tomatoes.

Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

Bon appétit!


You can replace the jalapeno peppers with habanero chiles if you want the chili fiery.

Make sure the cocoa powder is unsweetened; it adds an extra rich flavor to the seasoning.

I used Cotija cheese to keep the Mexican theme but you can use any other cheese you like, such as mozzarella.

I used Korean-style organic firm tofu; the texture is perfect for this dish. If you live in the Bay Area, you can find it at Galleria. The address is 3531 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95061.

I used store-bought tortillas but you can make your own tortillas at home.

The vegetarian chorizo has a similar texture to ground beef. Soy chorizo is available in regular stores such as Safeway and Trader Joe's.

I use avocado oil because of its exquisite artichoke-like aroma and its thick consistency. Since this oil is fairly expensive, I only drizzle it over the chili at the end as a finishing touch. You can find it at most specialty food stores or online.

Little reminder on how to roast (red bell pepper and jalapeño) peppers: I used the oven method. Preheat your oven to 450°F. Spread the peppers evenly on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. Roast the peppers for about 4-5 minutes until the skins blister and darken. Watch carefully so they don't burn. Wrap each pepper in aluminum foil. Let cool for about 5-10 minutes until you can handle them without discomfort. Clean and remove the skin from the peppers using a knife (or under running water); the skin will come right off. Seed them and chop the flesh. 

You can also serve the chili with guacamole if you like. If you want to make sure the diced avocado remains green, just drizzle a little lime juice over it before serving.

Homemade Guacamole

To save time, I often have already-caramelized onions on hand in the freezer. I suggest making them in advance in large batches. Just place about 1 tablespoon of tightly packed fried onions per slot in an ice-cube tray and freeze them. Transfer the ice-cubes a few at a time into sealable plastic bags and place back in the freezer. I think it's the best way to keep the same flavor without getting freezer burn. I store them exactly the same as I would extra pesto or papaya (for marinating meat).

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on May 22, 2010.


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