March 13th in upstate NY: ice, snow and 11 degrees. My toes may or may not still exist.
It’s been a long time since winter was last this epic in QV land. Over the course of the season, I’ve been reminded that there were cold snaps and big snowstorms in recent winters, but I swear we haven’t seen anything quite this crazy for this long since I was about nine years old. Which is quite a bit longer ago than I’d like to admit.
The crazy weather still has me fixated on comfort foods, which means we’ve been eating a lot of casserole, soup, stew and, of course, chili. I love me a good pot of chili, and there are plenty of amazing vegan recipes out there for every kind that you could dream of.
Except for exactly the kind I wanted one night a couple of weeks ago. Isn’t that always the way?
I knew I wanted beans. I knew I wanted mushrooms. And I knew that there was a bean and mushroom chili recipe in the Forks Over Knives cookbook, but it turned out to be made with pinto beans, which I didn’t have and didn’t really want. So I did what any perpetually connected vegan would do and hit up Google. Which also turned up nothing that I wanted. After that, of course (because how sad is it to strike out on Google, of all places?), it was time to do a little noodling around and put together a recipe for what I did want.
The result? White bean mushroom chili with just a hint of smoky spice. I used fresh jalapeno, chipotle chili powder, liquid smoke and fire roasted diced tomatoes to underscore the earthiness of the mushrooms. White beans are light and don’t impart an overwhelming flavor; rather, they tend to take up the taste of whatever they’re cooked with, making them a good choice for a robust chili where the spices take center stage. Rice makes a tasty neutral base that adds pleasant texture and bulk to the dish.
Honestly, before that Forks Over Knives recipe, I wouldn’t have thought to put mushrooms in chili. But in addition to being nicely chewy, it turns out that mushrooms are pretty amazing from a nutrition standpoint. They’re a good source of selenium, which has a whole host of important functions in the body including supporting antioxidant enzymes and facilitating the conversion of thyroid hormone to its active form. They’re also not a bad source of B vitamins and minerals such as phosphorous and copper. All the more reason to warm up with this chili if it’s–yes, I must make the pun–still chilly where you are.
- 1 cup onion, chopped
- ½ cup red bell pepper, chopped
- ½ cup green bell pepper, choppped
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 1 small jalapeno, seeded & minced
- 12oz. white mushrooms, sliced
- 2Tbsp chili powder
- 2Tsp cumin
- ¼tsp. chipotle chili powder, optional
- 1 14.5oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 4 cups cooked or 2 15.5oz cans white beans, drained & rinsed if canned
- 1 cup water
- ¼tsp liquid smoke
- black pepper to taste
- Place the onion and bell pepper in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add small splashes of water to the pan to keep the veggies from sticking, if necessary. Add the garlic and jalapeno and saute for 1 minute more, until fragrant.
- Add the mushrooms, chili powder, cumin and chipotle chili powder, if using. Stir well to coat. Cover the pot again and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms begin to soften and release their juices, about 7 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with their juices, beans, water and liquid smoke. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes to blend the flavors, stirring now and then to mix everything up and adding more water if necessary.
- Stir in the pepper. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve hot over rice, garnished with nutritional yeast, if desired.