Sunday, no wait, Monday Night Dinner: Almost Not Veggie Chili

Okay, here’s the situation: I am not – and might I add, never will I be – a vegetarian.  I love meat.  I love steak.  And the way I see it, if one loves steak, it will just be really difficult for one to ever seriously consider abandoning steak.  Steak abandonment.  AKA vegetarianism.  Also, chicken!  Mmmmmm.

However, My Man abandoned steak (sob) years ago, and now that we cook together fairly often, I’ve definitely started to add to my mental cookbook reserve of delicious vegetarian fare for frequent consultation when it comes to making dinner for both of us.

So, let me be totally honest about what I was looking for in the perfect vegetarian chili recipe: I wanted it to taste like non-vegetarian chili.  I am comfortable enough in my non-vegetarianism to be real with all of you about that.  I wanted to be able to believe that somewhere amidst that fairly healthy, fibrous sea of beans and vegetables, some ground beef could potentially be lurking, crouched in wait, hoping for me to find it.  It would be my reward for believing that some good could come from vegetarian cooking.

I am seriously sick in the head.  But at least I’m honest.  Am I right?

And let me tell you, this recipe delivered.  I basically Googled every popular vegetarian chili recipe on the internet, combined them all, and crossed my fingers.  And oh, how I was rewarded.

Almost Not Vegetarian Chili


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 onions, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 yellow bell peppers, chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (just. trust. me.)
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) tomatoes, undrained, chopped
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • .5 pound portobello mushrooms, sauteed
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen corn
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sour cream, for garnish, optional
  • cheddar cheese, grated, for garnish, optional
  • green onions, for garnish, optional
  • cilantro, for garnish, optional
  • none of the above four things are actually optional, don’t be a wuss!

[I know what you’re all thinking.  And yes, that is one BIGASS bowl of onions.  ALSO, how cute are those other two bowls?!]

[Spices!  Ooooh, pretty colors…]

Dice the onions.  If you are my boyfriend, cry.  A LOT.  These onions were CRAZY juicy.  Also, dice the peppers and the garlic.  Once that’s done, you have officially exhausted your required chopping for the evening, unless your grater is broken like ours and you have to spend five minutes contemplating hand-chopping the cheese before you remember OH YEAH, the microplane!  Bonus.

Sautee the onions for a minute or two with the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne.  Inhale.  Wipe your eyes, because they’ll probably be watering right along with your salivary glands.  Yes, I just said salivary glands while giving you cooking instructions.  We can all do with a little medical knowledge from time to time, okay?  Now pay attention.

Throw in the garlic and the peppers, and let the flavors all preemptively go on a date and get to know each other.  Marriage will happen later, people, but wait for the rest of the flavors, okay?  Don’t get ahead of yourself.

[Mushrooms!  also, My Man being “funny” pretending to cut off his finger.  The humor around here is pretty advanced; don’t feel bad if you don’t get it.]

Meanwhile, sautee those portobellos with some salt, pepper and chili powder (chop them small enough that you could imagine them being part of chili.  You know?  Yeah.)  Or, if you are us, forget about them until you’re almost done preparing the chili, THEN sautee them at a high temperature and throw them in with the rest of the stuff and pretend it never happened.  Oops.

Throw in the tomatoes, vegetable broth (eyeball it, everything will cook down) and cocoa powder.  Say WHAT?!?!  Yes, I said cocoa powder.  We actually used a combo cocoa-cayenne mix that they had at the store because it sounded unthinkably delicious, but the cocoa powder helps to give the chili a really rich, meaty taste.  WAIT did I just say meat?  Okay, you’re on to me.  So sue me.

[drain it!]

Drain the beans and corn, and throw them in.  Also, those mushrooms.  (Hey, if you forgot – make them now!)  Add some salt, then add more salt, and now taste and see what you think.  It’ll be pretty good, but not amazing.  That’s because it’s not ready yet.  Go watch a half an hour long television show, THEN come back and taste it.

[dump it!]

Once it’s appropriately cooked down (we gave it around 45 minutes, which worked out very nicely), try it again.  OMG!  I know.

Garnish with sour cream, cheddar cheese (in whatever form it may take…ours was kind of..wispy), green onions and cilantro (yummmm).

We also happened to discover some long-ignored boxes of Jiffy corn muffin mix in the back of the cupboard while trying to find something else, so we ended up making what I like to call “spontaneous cornbread.”  It’s just like regular cornbread, but you don’t know you’re making it until the whisk has somehow combined the corn muffin mix with milk and eggs, and you include REAL corn (it pops in your mouth and just makes it that much more of an experience).

Sunday Monday night dinner!  It’s the new black.

3 thoughts on “Sunday, no wait, Monday Night Dinner: Almost Not Veggie Chili”

  1. THIS IS AMAZING! My mom and I have been seeking ways to snazz up our chili (read: I have been looking for ways to improve my mom’s chili).

    PS reading your blog, and especially this entry in particular, makes me feel like I’m in the same room as you. Except I’m chili-less and alone. Sooo we should work on that.

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