Ultimate Veggie Chili
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, largely inactive (I recommend leaving it overnight whenever possible)
Donna says: If you haven’t tried Anne’s ULTIMATE VEGGIE CHILI recipe, put this on your “Must Try” list. It is easily the best veggie chili I have ever eaten. It has a fabulous rich, smoky flavor and texture and is very frugal. It is packed with budget-friendly healthy protein in the form of beans and tofu.
We originally featured it in our very first food collaboration, the co-authored cookbook, “101 Things To Do With Tofu”. A few months after it was published, Anne was chosen as a finalist for the Food Network’s Ultimate Recipe Showdown series two seasons ago, and she made it on to the show to compete and came in Second Place in her category!
Anne says: I’ve worked on this recipe literally for years, fine tuning it and trying different ingredients and approaches. This version is the one that includes all of my favorite variations over the years. I love the combination of diced and crushed tomatoes, and I am partial to black beans and corn as a pair. I like this amount of spice, and the smokiness of the chipotle powder – but it goes without saying that you should adjust it as you please.
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon each chipotle chili powder and crushed red pepper flakes
- 14 ounces (415 mL) extra-firm tofu, frozen and thawed, excess water squeezed out 
- 2 (14-ounce or 415 mL) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 (28-ounce or 830 mL) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 (4-ounce or 120 mL) can diced jalapenos, drained
- 1 (4-ounce or 120 mL) can green chiles, drained
- 2 (14-ounce or 415 mL) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14-ounce or 415 mL) can dark kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (250 mL) cup fresh or frozen corn
- 1 (250 mL) cup whole roasted cashews
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a large stockpot, sauté onion, bell pepper, and garlic in the olive oil over medium-high heat until onions are starting to soften. Stir in cumin, chipotle, and red pepper flakes. Crumble the thawed tofu into the mixture and sauté 5 minutes more.
- Reduce heat to medium. Add all tomatoes, jalapenos, green chiles, black beans, kidney beans, corn and cashews; mix well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
- As the recipe stands, it’s an effortlessly vegan recipe. I personally prefer to add a little sour cream and grated sharp cheddar, but it stands alone perfectly well too, or you could use a vegan sour cream and/or cheese.
- The one technique that might be new to a lot of people is the freezing, thawing and crumbling of the tofu. This is a crucial step! The freezing process causes the moisture within the tofu to separate from the soybean curd, which results in a denser, chewier texture, which is perfect for crumbling into any recipe you would normally use ground beef, turkey, sausage, etc.
My favorite way to do this is, after defrosting the tofu, placing it in a clean dishtowel and wringing it out, thus squeezing the water out and crumbling the tofu at the same time. I usually crumble it a bit more by hand after I open the towel, just to make sure it’s even – and then right into the pot it goes!