One of our most popular soups is this meatless chili. It has an extraordinary amount of flavor and is relatively quick to put together. Even our heartiest meat-loving customers are sold on this chili, and more than one has counseled us to omit the word vegan from the name to make it more appealing to non-vegans. So now we just call it Spicy Three-Bean and Corn Chili and it sells out every time. If you like, you can garnish each serving with sliced scallions. Or, for a non-vegan option, garnish with sour cream or grated cheese.
I strongly recommend that you use dried beans for the best flavor. But if you’re stuck for time and have only canned beans in your pantry, this soup is still fantastic. Just be sure to rinse the beans well before using, because the liquid they are packed in tastes stale and salty.
- Yield: 6 to 8 Servings (3 QT/2.8 L)
- 0.66 cup (120 g) dried cannellini beans, or one 15 oz (430 g) can cannellini beans
- 0.66 cup (120 g) dried black beans, or one 15 oz (430 g) can black beans
- 0.66 cup (120 g) dried chickpeas, or one 15 oz (430 g) can chickpeas
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 onion, cut into ½-in/12-mm pieces
- 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into ½-in/12-mm pieces
- 1 celery stalk, cut into ½-in/12-mm pieces
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into ½-in/12-mm pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
- 15¼ oz (435 g) can corn kernels, drained and rinsed
- 4 oz (115 g) can minced mild green chiles
- 14½ oz (415 g) cans “no salt added” diced tomatoes, with juice
- 1 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 2 tbsp packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp smoked Spanish paprika
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tbsp plus 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground white pepper
- If using dried beans, place them together in a bowl or other container, add 2½ qt/2.5 L water, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans. In a large saucepan, bring the beans and about 2½ qt/2.5 L fresh water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 1 to 1½ hours, or until the beans are tender. Remove from the heat and drain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid. Set the beans and liquid aside separately. If using canned beans, drain, rinse under cold running water, and set aside.
- In the stockpot, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, sweet potato, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften, the onion starts to turn translucent, and you can smell the vegetables cooking. Add the drained beans, corn, green chiles, tomatoes, and 4 cups/960 ml of the bean cooking liquid, or water if you have used canned beans, and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Add the vinegar, brown sugar, chili powder, paprika, cocoa powder, cayenne, salt, and white pepper. Stir until well mixed and bring back to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the mixture thickens a bit.
- The chili can be ladled into bowls and served immediately, or it can be cooled, covered, and refrigerated overnight to develop flavor and texture. It can also be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.