Best Chili Ever - Meat Optional

This is my go to chili recipe. It was inspired from a combination of recipes I've used over the years.  In turn, that has slowly morphed into this go to! I love having this meal to fall back on when I just cannot devote the time or energy to a more creative dinner. This chili always wins. It is comforting and accommodating especially in a pinch. The combination of spices and sauces provide the perfect umami flavor. You won't miss the meat, but can certainly add it! Serve it alone, with a grain, over spaghetti squash or even baked potatoes.  Here's another reason for you to save this recipe, omit the tomatoes and you have my favorite black bean soup!

Tips to add depth of flavor

  • if you are adding meat, brown it first before proceeding with the recipe

  • saute onions and mushrooms first to get a nice caramelization

  • season with salt and pepper at the end to keep the beans soft

  • add in sweet potatoes for extra comfort


Best Chili Ever - Meat Optional

1 Tbs. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 Onion diced

1 Carrot diced

1 Celery stalk diced

4 White Button Mushrooms diced

1 Poblano Pepper seeded and diced

2 Garlic Cloves sliced

1 can Tomato Paste (yes, a whole can!)

1 can Diced Tomatoes (28 oz.)

1 tsp Ground Cumin

2 Tbs. Chili Powder

1/4 tsp Cinnamon

1 Tbs. Cocoa Powder

1 Tbs. Coconut Aminos (you can use soy sauce here.)

1 Tbs. Worcestershire Sauce

1/4 cup Hot Sauce

1 cup Red Lentils

1 cup dried Black Beans*

8 cups water (I often use homemade chicken broth or this stuff.)

You can do this in your pressure cooker which is the easiest option by far! Just put all the ingredients in, set it to the bean/chili function(30min) and forget it. Once it is done, I turn it off and let the pressure naturally release, but if you are in a hurry go ahead and do a quick pressure release. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you do this on the stove, just soften the vegetables over medium heat first and be sure to use pre-cooked or canned beans. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Serve this chili with your favorite toppings. We love to garnish our bowls with sliced avocados, cilantro leaves, a lime squeeze and some plain whole milk yogurt. May our best chili ever become your go to come football season or whenever you need a hearty comforting meal! 

*Note: You can change out the beans! I like to use whatever I have which is usually a combination of Black Beans, Pinto Beans, Lentils and even Northern Beans. Just be sure to stick with a total of 2 cups dried.