(Slow Cooker) Vegetarian Chili

When I’m trying to plan my meals for a busy week, I like to prepare a dish that is a complete meal — no need for a side dish means I can grab my food, eat it, and go!

Chili is a classic meal-in-a-bowl because it’s full of vegetables, protein, and — most importantly — flavour. If you can make the time to put everything together, the quick leftovers are totally worth it.

I personally prefer vegetarian chili because I find I’m more creative when it comes to protein source selection; there’s no meat to rely on, so I think about it more and end up with a more balanced, less fatty meal. Generally, I try to aim for 4 to 5 types of beans, plus texturized vegetable protein (TVP), which has a consistency similar to ground beef and works perfectly in vegetarian chili, meatloaf (lentil loaf, anyone?), etc. Even if you are a meat eater, you should consider adding TVP to your diet. A little extra variety never hurt anyone!

This chili can be done on the stove top or in a slow cooker. Just remember that the prep time is a bit lengthier as you need to cut a lot of vegetables and soak the beans overnight if you’re using dry beans. However, once everything is ready to go, it’s just a matter of letting everything cook to perfection!

Vegetarian chili served with fresh goat feta and sweet potato chips.

(Slow Cooker) Vegetarian Chili

1/3 cup each of 5 types of beans: choose from white kidney, red kidney, chickpeas, northern white, black or regular soya, mung, adzuki… the options are endless!
2/3 cup red lentils
1 cup TVP
1 can stewed or diced tomatoes
1 can tomato paste
3 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp instant coffee
1 can of beer of your choice
1-2 vegetable bouillon cubes
1 tsp ground sage
3 tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground chili or cayenne pepper
3-5 garlic cloves
5-6 medium carrots
5-6 stalks celery
large handful brown mushrooms
large handful green beans
1 red bell pepper and 1 yellow bell pepper
1 package frozen spinach

In the Slow Cooker

1. Soak the dried beans overnight or boil on high heat for at least 3 hours. Drain the liquid and reserve until you are ready to cook.

2. Wash all your vegetables and peel the carrots. Chop your vegetables into bite-sized chunks, about 1/2 an inch thick. Chop the garlic into smaller pieces.

3. Combine all of the liquid ingredients and the spices in a bowl and stir to combine. Add all of the vegetables and beans to the slow cooker, then pour the liquid over them. Top up the slow cooker with water if necessary. Cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours, until vegetables and beans are cooked fully through.

In a Regular Pot

Follow all of the instructions, but place the ingredients in a large pot instead of a slow cooker. Bring all ingredients to a boil over medium heat, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 to 8 hours, until vegetables and beans are cooked fully through.

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