This is the first recipe on my new site! Why chili, when there are a million and a half chili recipes out there already? I chose it because it’s mostly pantry ingredients and it’s winter, so…chili time! But it’s also ridiculously easy to make in an InstantPot and I wanted to introduce this small appliance as early into my recipe series as I could. I honestly see it as indispensable in my whole foods kitchen.
I use it more than once a day most days. I cook beans, lentils, chickpeas, rice, polenta, oatmeal, vegetable broth, soups, one pot pasta, curries…you can even use it to make homemade yogurt. But chili is also something you can make on the stove top (see notes below for stove top method) using mostly canned ingredients, so it’s also a great “last minute” dinner.
Beans are a no brainer. They’re full of protein and fiber, so you stay full longer. Chili freezes beautifully, so make a huge batch and freeze most of it in individual portions so you can eat it when you don’t feel like cooking. Yes, it might cause a little bit of bloating if you’re not used to eating beans, but once your system is used to processing the higher levels of fiber you get regularly on a whole foods diet, that should go away.
You can eat chili a million different ways, so it’s a great staple meal. Eat it straight up or make it interesting by trying it over rice or cauliflower rice, on noodles (what are you doing over there, Cincinnati??!), over polenta, cornbread, a baked potato, roasted winter squash or on top of a hot dog or burger. I also love scooping it up with whole grain tortilla chips.
And finally, this is a also great opportunity to introduce you to a vegan staple, textured vegetable protein, aka “TVP.” If you’ve ever had canned chili or eaten at Taco Bell, you’ve had it before and probably didn’t even notice. It is a processed food, but it’s high in protein and contains no fat so I’m comfortable using it in moderations. I buy it in the bulk bins of my local grocery store, but you can find it at most stores these days or order it online!
Leave it out if you want or you can sub any vegan ground “beef” that’s out there.
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- 4 cloves garlic
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 1 cup pinto beans
- 1 cup black beans
- 1 cup kidney beans
- 1 cup TVP-textured vegetable protein
- 1 tbsp kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cumin
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp chipotle powder
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Chop all the vegetables into a small dice, about ½”. Hit the “saute” button on your InstantPot and add all the veggies except the garlic and saute until browned, about 8 minutes. No oil is necessary since we’re about to add liquid and that will naturally deglaze the pan. While that is happening, open your cans of tomatoes and measure out other ingredients.
- Once the vegetables are browned, add in garlic and stir around for another minute or so. Then add the spices and stir again, toasting for about a minute. (if your InstantPot says it’s burning, just turn off the saute feature now). And no, ¼ cup of cumin isn’t a typo. I find most recipes online to be drastically under seasoned and I’m not playing around. I want my food to be flavorful!
- Add the tomatoes, beans, TVP, vegetable broth, water and salt. Stir, put the lid on your InstantPot, make sure the lid is not venting and cook on high pressure for 40 minutes. Allow the pressure to naturally release.
- Remove the lid, stir in the corn and taste. Adjust the salt if you feel like it and dig in! Or make it fancy by adding some or all of the topping ideas below!
- Top with cilantro, scallions, raw red onion, pickled jalapenos, avocado, tortilla chips/strips, cornbread croutons!
- Feeling basic? Use pre-chopped or frozen veggies, use packaged chili seasoning.
- Feeling extra? Use homemade broth, home grown tomatoes or other veggies instead of canned or serve with homemade corn tortilla chips.
- If your chili is too watery, mix 1 tbsp. corn starch with 1 tbsp. of water and add to the chili. Simmer for 5 minutes. That should thicken the sauce up a bit.
- Stove top directions: Follow the same directions as for InstantPot except substitute 4 or 5 (ya really need 4.5 cans, so you pick what to do here!) cans of beans for the dried beans and add just enough stock for the chili to be at your preferred thickness. I love the cans that have 3 beans in them, but one can of each works just as well. The already cooked beans won’t absorb any liquid, so there’s no need for more than that. Instead of pressure cooking, just use a large pot. After you've added everything in, bring to a boil, turn the heat to low and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. If it thickens too much, add a bit more stock. Taste and adjust the seasoning by adding more salt if needed!