I have never met a bowl of vegan chili that I didn't like. If you ask me, vegans have one-up on the rest of the world when it comes to chili. Leave out the meat and you have more room for beans, grains, and fun veggie add-ins like peppers, corn, sweet potatoes, squash, mushrooms, celery, carrots--you name it. Start with some beans, tomatoes, and spice, and let your imagination go wild (well not too wild, no one wants broccoli in their chili).
No two batches of chili are exactly the same, especially in my kitchen. For this year's first batch of chili I tried out two new ingredients: pumpkin puree and beer. This combination mingles with the tomato juices to deliver a unique, lip-smacking broth. The pumpkin and beer flavors are subtle in the, "ooh, what is that?" kind of way, peeking out from underneath the rich taste of the smoked paprika and sage. (By the way, this would be really, really lovely with handful of fresh chopped sage, if you have it.)
I encourage you to try this pumpkin / beer combo, I think it will surprise you.
Pumpkin Black Bean Chili
(adapted from (never home)maker)
1 onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 cups cooked black beans (or 2-15 oz cans, rinsed and drained)
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups fresh pumpkin puree (or 1-15 oz can)
2-15 oz cans or 1-28 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 cup hearty fall or winter beer (or sub vegetable broth)
1-1/2 tbsp smoked paprika
3 tsp chili powder
1-1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp rubbed sage
1/4 tsp cayenne
Heat 1/4 cup water in a large stock pot and add onion. Saute for 3 minutes, or until translucent. Add garlic and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes, until fragrant.
Add spices and stir to coat the onions, saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in beer and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes.
Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cover, simmer for 45 minutes stirring occasionally.
Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. Garnish with vegan cheese and chopped green onion.
Fan of white chili? Try this version with tomatillos and roasted mushrooms, a favorite from 2009.