Is there a more perfect winter food than chili? It is so warm and comforting and makes such a hearty meal when it is cold outside. And it’s the perfect food to eat when you’re watching football. Now I’m sure my meat loving readers are scoffing over this meatless chili recipe, but I promise you, it’s delicious! This chili is so full of flavor and texture that you won’t even miss the meat. And if you are still in doubt, this vegetarian chili has TheBetterHalf’s seal of approval! This is really saying a lot because he rarely has a meat free meal.
This recipe comes from Cook’s Illustrated. (As an aside, TheBetterHalf thinks Cook’s Illustrated should be plural possessive – Cooks’ Illustrated – because it’s not just one cook doing all this cooking and illustrating. He thinks the only way Cook’s Illustrated makes sense is if the company is owned by someone named Cook. Like Dane Cook’s Illustrated. The lesson, as always, don’t listen to TheBetterHalf). Anyway, Cook’s Illustrated is a great source for innovative recipes. They test out so many different methods of cooking and ingredients that you know the final product is going to be delicious. Now the one thing about their recipes is that they are oftentimes complex and include many different ingredients. This chili is no exception. It has a lot of ingredients, and some seem quite strange to have in chili (walnuts? soy sauce?? bulgur???) – but don’t be intimidated! Each ingredient serves a unique purpose and the resulting bowl of chili is so rich, hearty, and flavorful.
- 1 pound dried beans, picked over and rinsed (mix any type you like - I used cannellini and pinto)
- 2 dried ancho chiles
- 2 dried New Mexican chilis
- 1/2 ounce shiitake mushroom, chopped coarse
- 4 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
- 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomato, drained with juice reserved
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1-2 jalepeno chilies, stemmed and coarsely chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 pounds onion, chopped fine
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 7 cups water
- 2/3 cup bulgur
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1) In a large Dutch oven over high heat, bring 4 quarts water, 3 tablespoons salt, and beans to boil. Once they are boiling, remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Then drain the beans and rinse well. Wash out the pot so that it is clean and ready to use for the soup.
- 2) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Place the ancho and New Mexican chilies on a baking sheet and bake for about 8 minutes, until they are fragrant. Transfer to a plate, let cool for 5 minutes, then stem and seed the chilies. Grind the toasted chilies, mushrooms, and oregano in a spice grinder or a food processor until finely ground, working in batches if necessary.
- 3)Place walnuts in a food processor and grind until they are finely ground, about 30 seconds, then transfer to a bowl.
- 4) Next process drained tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeños, garlic, and soy sauce until the tomatoes are finely chopped, about 45 seconds.
- 5) Over medium-high heat, heat oil in a Dutch oven until shimmering. Add the onions and 1 1/4 teaspoons salt and cook until the onions begin to brown, stirring occasionally (about 8 - 10 minutes). 6) Lower the heat to medium, add ground chile mixture and cumin, and cook for about one minute, stirring occasionally. Add rinsed beans and water and bring to a boil.
- 7) Cover pot and transfer to the oven (already heated to 300 degrees from earlier) to cook for 45 minutes.
- 8) Remove pot from oven and stir in bulgur, walnuts, tomato mixture, and reserved tomato juice. cover pot and return to oven.
- 9) Cook about 2 hours, or until beans are fully tender. Remove pot from oven, stir chili well, and let stand for 20 minutes uncovered. Stir in cilantro and serve.
From Cook's Illustrated
Jasline @ Foodie Baker says
Mmmm first time I’m reading about a vegetarian chili and yours looks amazing and delicious!
Chris @ Shared Appetite says
Haha I love the whole Cook’s vs. Cooks’ debate between you and The Better Half! I never even thought of that, but now I think I’m with your husband! Anwyay, I love Cook’s (Cooks’) Illustrated and their recipes are always on point. Can’t wait to try this chili!
Glad to have your support Chris!
Julie's Family Kitchen says
Looks pretty good to me, your pictures are stunning as always.
Thanks, Julie! It really means a lot to hear you say that!
Megan - The Emotional Baker says
I love a good meat free chili. The bulgur addition sounds really interesting. I’ve used textured vegetable protein in place of meat before, but it will be nice to try a new substitution.
Thanks, Megan! This was the first time I have cooked with bulgur – I really loved it!
Erin | The Emerging Foodie says
Mmm, chili definitely is one of the perfect winter-time foods! This looks awesome! I never would have thought to post all those unique ingredients in there (walnuts??!), but I bet it makes for the perfect texture! I’m about to go on a long run and could definitely go for a bowl right afterwards. Mmmm!
Good for you for going on a long run – I need one of those after all the weekend eating! But this chili really is a healthy and delicious meal!
Sarah & Arkadi says
This chili looks fantastic!
Thank you so much!
Sarah K. @ The Pajama Chef says
this chili sounds so good! we’ve been eating more vegetarian food lately…will have to give this a try 🙂
Thanks, Sarah! This is a great vegetarian option, especially if you really wish you were eating meat!
Mary Frances says
Chili is the best comfort food in the winter! Whoa, I’m intrigued – no meat, but you think there is? Never would’ve guess it was bulgur. With the mushrooms, chiles, and beans, this chili looks packed with flavor and texture. Nothing boring about this recipe, and it looks delicious!
Thanks, Mary Frances! There is such depth of flavor in here that it really mimics the flavor of meat. Plus the texture of the bulgur is so similar to ground beef. It really was so comforting and delicious!
Trish - Mom On Timeout says
Definitely going to be giving this recipe a try! It looks so hearty I don’t think even my husband will be missing the meat 🙂
Thanks, Trish! Your husband really won’t miss the meat, I promise!
David G says
I made this chili. Not “that looks good” made it or “I’ll have to give that a try” made it. I made it, ate it, loved it. My vegetarian family including my youngest, who rarely eats anything like this, all loved it too.
Tina @ Tina's Chic Corner says
I just saw your recipe on Cook’s Illustrated website and I’m like “hey, I know her!” You go girl! This looks amazing and I can’t wait to try it. 🙂
Aw, thanks Tina! That made me smile!! I was so excited to be featured on their site – I love Cook’s Illustrated!
Do you think this will make enough for a potluck style event, or should I double it?