Make Ahead

Smoky Chipotle Vegetarian Chili

February  1, 2012
5 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

What's a pastry chef to do when the doctor keeps saying that the cholesterol numbers are a little high? Well, if that pastry chef were me -- and she is -- she is going to learn to make adjustments to the types of food she eats and also the way that they are prepared. Honestly, it's a little difficult. While I love vegetarian dishes and could live on salads, I also enjoy things like beer butt chicken and flank steaks cooked on the grill. And lets really lay it all out here, a lot of so called vegetarian dishes rely on processed soy products to mimic the flavor and texture of meat, and poultry and that isn't necessarily any better for you than the meat is. So, after a little bit of practice using Isa Chandra Moskowitz's latest book, "Appetite for Reduction", I decided to mix up a batch of chili that even she might like to try.

one of the things about most vegetarian chilis that disappoints me is the use of a large quantity of lentils and beans. while they are generally tasty, they always seem like a bowl of beans to me. what i love about a classic beef chili is the stick to your ribs, chunky vegetable and spicy tomato-chile base that the beans and meat are surrounded by. while rummaging through the cupboards looking for the things i needed, i came across a can of pumpkin puree and a little light went off; finally, the one thing that i knew would add a heartiness to the chili without making it a bowl of beans!

the beauty of this recipe, you can alter it easily. want it real spicy add the full amount of the chipotles. like a lot of beans? add an extra can. want to keep it vegan? skip the shredded cheese or use a soy cheese. the addition of hominy helps to thicken the dish without adding the usual cornmeal. just make a batch and see for yourself; it is completely possible to make a bowl of chili and not miss the meat at all! —janeofmanytrade

Test Kitchen Notes

Transport your tastebuds with a chili that hides a few surprises. With the first bite, I was hit with the smoke and spice from the adobe packed chipotles -- then it becomes dark and new and fruity. It is an exciting balance: Red pepper, tomato, and onion provide sweetness, a handful of spices and chilis bring the heat, dark chocolate adds depth, and the pumpkin is all texture. It is truly a chili where the beans become an afterthought, even behind the dumpling-soft hominy. I could't bring myself to top my bowl with anything -- I just wanted the harmony to continue to sing in my mouth and take my tastebuds to places no chili had lead me before. —Jody Carmichael

What You'll Need
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color), diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle chilis (packed in adobo sauce)
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • one 15-ounces can pumpkin puree
  • two 14-ounce cans fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • one 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • one or two 15.5-ounce cans beans (black, pinto or kidney)
  • one 15.5-ounce can hominy (yellow or white)
  • 1-2 cups vegetable broth-depending on desired thickness
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  1. In a large pot over medium heat, sauté the onion and bell pepper in the olive oil. When translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes, add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  2. Stir in the oregano, chili powder, coriander, cumin, and chipotle. Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the pumpkin, stirring to break it up.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, beans, hominy, and broth and bring to a simmer. Stir the chili often to prevent scorching.
  4. Add the chopped chocolate and stir to melt and combine it. Allow the chili to simmer for at least an hour. Salt as desired
  5. Now the fun part: Eat it! However, if you let it sit a day, it will taste even better. Serve with the usual suspects: grated cheese (dairy or soy), sour cream (dairy or soy), tortilla chips, chopped onions, etc.
  6. to garnish, serve with shredded cheese and sour cream-be sure to use vegan products if you are avoiding animal products.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • wills
  • janeofmanytrade
  • Patrick Grady
    Patrick Grady
  • Jonas
  • Tim Helms
    Tim Helms

14 Reviews

Tinaindenver November 6, 2023
I have made this many times. It is my favorite vegetarian chili recipe. Very complex flavors and freezes really well. I may try beer next time instead of broth as one reviewer suggested.
Cindy S. October 22, 2017
I made this last night for a chili cook off today. It’s terrible. There zero flavor except for heat. And there is way too much heat. I followed the recipe exactly as stated except used beer instead of broth, as others suggested in the reviews. I had such high hopes for this chili but it’s not even edible. I’m so disappointed.
wills January 15, 2015
I made this for my daughter's "Fiesta Day" at school. Turned out really well. I doubled the recipe and finished with a pretty generous amount of sea salt, which brought out the flavor. Also I felt that the recipe needed about a tablespoon more chipotle chilis. Overall a big hit and I will definitely make again.
janeofmanytrade January 16, 2015
Nice to hear the chili was a part of "Fiesta Day" and that everyone enjoyed it, thanks!
janeofmanytrade January 12, 2015
broth amount added-sorry for that!
Patrick G. January 12, 2015
I made this yesterday with a cup of Guinness Extra Stout in lieu of missing broth and it turned out great! Got much more than 4 servings out of it, too.
janeofmanytrade January 12, 2015
that sounds like a great way to replace the broth-I will have to try that!
Jonas December 31, 2014
How much broth? Listed in directions but not ingredients.
Tim H. October 13, 2014
In lieu of broth, I used 1/2 cup stout beer (non-Guinness) and 1/2 cup water. Turned out great complimenting the pumpkin and chocolate.
janeofmanytrade January 12, 2015
stout sounds like an awesome idea-will have to try that!
imryan23 October 12, 2014
Any updates on the missing broth ashcroce mentioned?
janeofmanytrade January 12, 2015
sorry about that, recipe has been updated!
healthierkitchen January 10, 2013
I like your thinking! Saved!
ashcroce November 17, 2012
This was an amazing chili. The hominy really gave it a nice hardy texture and the pumpkin and chocolate played nicely with the smokey heat of the chipotle peppers. However, the broth mentioned in step 3 was not listed in the ingredients. I added about a cup.