Sunday Dinner

A Hearty Vegetarian Chili with 3 Tricks Up Its Sleeve

February 15, 2018

There may be numerous schools of chili out there, but no matter what regional style you subscribe to, we can all agree that there are fewer things more comforting than tucking into a warm bowl of it (with all the fixings, please).

The latest chili to cross our paths here at Food52 comes to us from Laila Ali (yes, that one!), and it checks off everything we love about the soul-soothing dish: hearty, spiced just right, with a depth of flavor that had us reaching for more. Now, cocoa powder and coffee are no strangers to a chili party, but combined with the earthy cremini mushrooms in Ali's recipe, they bring out all of the great umami flavors we love so much. A touch of sweet and tangy balsamic vinegar acts as both a deglazing liquid and a final brightener to the finished pot.

Talk about a sight for sore eyes! Photo by Rocky Luten

Like many chilis, this one gets better the longer you cook it (and tastes even better the following day). For those who like a thicker chili, you can blend a portion of it and then return it to the pan.

Shop the Story

The former professional boxer has a passion for throwing it down in the kitchen—and it shows in her new book, Food for Life.

"Many people assume that my success in boxing was automatically passed on to me from my dad [Muhammad Ali]. Actually, the truth is, I didn't learn how to harvest those boxing 'genes' and build on the healthy fitness and eating habits my parents instilled in me until I was eighteen and became a boxer myself," Ali writes. "The food I ate allowed me to get the most out of my training and set me apart from the competition."

These days as a busy mother of two, Ali is committed to passing down those good habits to her own family. "Nutrition is king in my kitchen, but flavor is queen, and I won't sacrifice one for the other in my cooking."

What are your favorite ways to boost flavor in chili? Share your tips with us below!

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.