This vegan chili is very filling and quickly made its way into our rotation of favorite dinners. It’s got protein from the beans and chickpeas, lots of vegetable and lots of spices. It’s very tasty and sort of sweet and doesn’t give you that heavy feeling some chili can. We get three dinners out of one batch so it’s a lifesaver during crunch time.
The recipe is based on the vegetarian chili recipe from Archie Moore’s, a small chain of American-style restaurants around New Haven. Most people go there for their wings but I almost always got a bowl of veggie chili. This is a vegan replica of that, the only missing ingredient being shredded cheddar cheese used as a topping. I eat the chili with tortilla chips so I find it filling enough without the cheese and don’t really miss it, but (vegan) cheddar cheese can be added as a topping. I like this adapted recipe so much, I was not even tempted to go back for the original the last time I visited New Haven.
I use a large 7.5 quart (7 liter) pot to cook the chili and it is much too big. The second largest pot I have, however, is 3.2 quarts (3 liters) and wouldn’t give me enough room to stir. A pot of any size in between should work well.
It takes a while to get all of the ingredients ready. To cut down on prep time, I get the onion, garlic, spices, broth, and tomato sauce ready before I begin and I prepare the rest of the ingredients while cooking. I chop up the carrot while the onion is cooking, I open the remaining cans while the sauce is cooking, and I chop up the remaining vegetables while the sauce with the legumes and corn are cooking. The zucchini and peppers do overcook when the chili is reheated, so if you’re making ahead, add them in when reheating, and simmer them for 15 minutes before eating.
My absolute favorite tortilla chips for this chili are multigrain scoops. They’re little edible spoons! And there’s something about the multigrain that makes the chili taste even heartier and tastier. These chips are very hard to find in my neighborhood so I order them online and sometimes they arrive in good condition and sometimes they arrive mostly crushed, so I don’t always get my first choice. Regular scoops taste too salty for me so my second choice is tortilla chips that are made in store in our grocery store. They’re thick enough to allow me to scoop up the chili, don’t have much salt, are very inexpensive, and remind me of homemade tortilla chips. Homemade tortilla chips are fairly easy to make from corn tortillas if you cut some tortillas up into triangle shapes and they are so, so good warm. But you have to have the patience and/or tools to fry them. I, for one, have never had this with homemade tortilla chips.
Low-sodium vegan chili
Adapted from Archie Moore’s vegetarian chili recipe as printed in the New Haven Register
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) olive oil, or a little more
- half of a small onion, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 tablespoons (30mL) chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5mL) dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon (5mL) ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon (5mL) paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon (2.5mL) freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25mL) ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25mL) crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/8 teaspoon (0.5mL) cayenne pepper
- 2 cups (475mL) vegetable broth, low-sodium
- 15-ounce (425g) can crushed tomatoes, low-sodium
- 15-ounce (425g) can black beans, low-sodium, drained
- 15-ounce (425g) can kidney beans, low-sodium, drained
- 15-ounce (425g) can chickpeas, low-sodium, drained
- 8.5-ounce (240g) can corn, no salt added, drained
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 zucchini, washed but not peeled, diced
- 1 tablespoon red wine (optional)
- tortilla chips, on the side
- In a large pot, heat up over medium-high heat as much oil as you need to cover the bottom of the pot. I need 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until it begins to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, carrots, chili powder, oregano, black pepper, cumin, paprika, allspice, red pepper flakes, and cayenne pepper and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.
- Stir in the vegetable broth and crushed tomatoes. Bring to boil then turn down the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add in the black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and corn and stir until combined. Simmer the chili uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the red and yellow peppers and continue simmering for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the zucchini and, if using, the red wine, and continue simmering for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Top each portion with cheddar cheese, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips.
Sources of sodium
- Vegetable broth
- Crushed tomatoes
- Black beans
- Kidney beans
- Chili powder
- Tortilla chips
Approximate sodium intake per serving: 298.6 mg + more from tortilla chips
- 23 mg from the vegetable broth, which has 70 mg per cup (240mL)
- 20 mg from the crushed tomatoes, which have 35 mg per 1/2 cup (123g)
- 70.8 mg from the black beans, which have 130 mg per 1/2 cup (130g)
- 70.8 mg from the kidney beans, which have 130 mg per 1/2 cup (130g)
- 70.8 mg from the chickpeas, which have 130 mg per 1/2 cup (130g)
- 3.2 mg from the corn, which has 10 mg per 1/2 cup (125g)
- 40 mg from the chili powder, which has 10 mg per 1/4 teaspoon (0.5g)
- These values are calculated from the nutritional labels of the ingredients I used
Reduce the sodium
Use ‘no salt added’ beans and chickpeas or use dried legumes that you pre-soak ahead.
Use ‘no salt added’ canned tomatoes, or, if you’re feeling fancy, use fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes and crush them yourself. You’ll need to boil them and peel them before crushing them. I suspect that the chili will less flavorful if fresh tomatoes are used. A little bit of salt goes a long way with tomato sauces.
If serving with tortilla chips, find ones that have no extra salt added or are very low sodium.
Be very careful to choose a can that has either no salt added or a relatively small amount of sodium. Canned tomatoes sometimes have an astronomically high amount of salt added.
Organic vs conventionally-grown
Be sure to check the labels for the sodium content on the pre-packaged ingredients. We end up getting the organic versions of many of the pre-packaged ingredients for no reason other than that they have lower sodium contents than their conventionally-grown counterparts. The organic low-sodium vegetable broth has less sodium than the conventional low-sodium broth. The organic canned legumes (beans and chickpeas) have a lot less sodium than even the lower sodium versions of the conventional canned legumes. I also always buy organic carrots because they taste sweeter and I end up eating most of the carrots we get raw, as a snack. Conventionally-grown or non-sweet carrots would work just as well.
Increase the sodium
If we weren’t worried about our sodium intake, we would add salt when adding the rest of the spices (1/8 teaspoon to start and then possibly more to taste).
Multigrain scoops are my favorite tortilla chips to pair with this chili. I also like the very low sodium tortilla chips made in store at my grocery store or homemade tortilla chips made by deep-drying corn tortilla triangles. My husband often eats the chili with a spoon and has on the side two corn tortillas, heated up in the toaster oven with a bit of mozzarella cheese.