the easiest chili in the world

This chili balances flavor and texture in a low-prep meal.

Core ingredients:

2 cans of beans of your choice (black, kidney, black-eyed peas, red)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 onion of your choice (red, white, yellow)

1/2 tbsp butter

2 tbsp minced garlic

2 – 3 cups of vegetable broth or water with a bouillon cube

1 packet of chili seasoning mix or DIY instructions below

1 cup veggie protein crumbles

Salt to taste

 

Optional ingredients:

Rice vinegar

Chopped green onions

Shredded cheese

Greek yogurt

Crushed crackers or oyster crackers

 

Directions:

  1. Drain the beans and add to a large pot.
  2. Add in diced tomatoes and broth.
  3. Bring pot to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  4. Chop the onion the correct way.
  5. Heat butter in a separate pan under medium until gently bubbling.
  6. Sauté onions in butter until slightly translucent at edges, then add in protein crumbles and garlic.
  7. Continue to cook onion / garlic / protein mixture for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add half of the seasoning mixture and cook for another 2 minutes.
  8. Add onion / garlic / protein mixture to simmering pot. Stir ingredients in and let simmer for 10 minutes.
  9. Taste the chili. If the flavor is present at the back of your mouth but not pronounced enough, add 1 – 2 tsp salt, stir and re-taste. If the flavor is too subdued, add in 1 – 2 tbsp of seasoning mixture, stir and re-taste. Repeat until you are satisfied.
  10. Continue to let chili simmer for 20 minutes.
  11. Serve chili in a bowl. Add a sprinkling of rice wine vinegar, followed by cheese, green onions, crackers, and a dollop of greek yogurt.

The good stuff:

Flavor

Like most dishes, chili is all about flavor and texture. Depth of flavor is what separates great chilis from the rest. The simple recipe above ensures you’ll pack flavor into every bite.

Simmering the ingredients in broth instead of water ensures salt and umami are present in the base of the dish. You can use whatever broth you want here, or go with my favorite option — water combined with flavor-packed bouillon cubes. They have great shelf life and end up being cheaper than purchasing stock all the time.

The seasoning mix for the chili is where most of the flavor will end up coming from. You can make one yourself by combining the spices listed in a bowl, or grab a low-sodium pre-made seasoning packet from the store.

After the chili’s done, rice wine vinegar adds a great finish for the flavor without adding too much spice. Most hot sauces are also vinegar based, so if you’re in a spicy mood, substitute the vinegar for your favorite hot sauce.

DIY Seasoning mix:

4 tbsp chili powder

2 tbsp cumin

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp salt

2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp dried oregano

(optional)

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

 

Texture

Chili without texture is just spicy soup. Still good, but not chili.

Veggie protein crumbles are a great way to add texture to chili. Of course, ground beef can substitute if you’re so inclined. You’ll see some recipes for vegetarian chili include quinoa or another starchy vegetable like sweet potato to add texture, but I strongly prefer the protein crumbles.

Seasoning the crumbles before you add them to the pot ensures a nice balance of flavor and texture later. The crumbles will bind easily to the oil and seasoning, and can be bland if just added to the pot otherwise.

Crackers, cheese, and the dollop of greek yogurt all add to the play of texture on the final dish.

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