Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Comfort Food with a healthy twist

Vegetarian chili - warm and comforting |

Chili is usually a Fall season food, but this last little bit of April has been unusually cold and rainy, and the other night we really wanted comfort food.

Fun Fact: I’m not a meat eater (it’s a boring story, so we’ll skip it). Mr. SuzerSpace does eat meat, but since he really likes to cook, it’s not a deal breaker.

Meatless chili recipes tend to splinter off into mostly two groups – the types that are more bean salad with sauce, or the ones with so many special expensive ingredients that they really aren’t chili anymore.

I’ve been tweaking my own recipe for many, many years, and have come up with a version that we both really like. I think it’s a pretty good compliment that Mr. SuzerSpace will actually request this meal vs. cooking up his own version with more standard ingredients. He also likes to serve this on top of a hot dog – his own “healthyized” version of a chili dog.

There is one special ingredient in this recipe – TVP – also known as Texturized Vegetable Protein. If you go googling this, it sounds weird and scary (doomsday preppers buy it by the pallet). It looks like spray insulation, and if you don’t add anything to it when you cook it, it takes about the same.

My trick is to add layers of flavor to it at every stage – I add Soy Sauce to the water for rehydrating it, and I cook it with the onions and spices BEFORE I add in the other ingredients so it has a good amount of time to soak up all the flavors.

Personally, I buy small bags of the Bob’s Red Mill Brand (not a paid endorsement – it’s just the only version I’ve used). It’s in the health market section of my regular grocery store, or I can find it at Trader Joe’s and Sprouts.

You can leave the TVP out of the dish and it’s still good. Before I discovered TVP I made this using the veggie burger crumbles from the frozen food section. I like the texture of TVP better, it keeps forever in the cabinet, and it is much more economical.

The great thing about this (any any good chili recipe) is you can make a big batch and eat it for days, or freeze leftovers. And it scales up or down beautifully.

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes


  • 1 cup Textured Vegetable Protein small crumble version
  • 3/4 cup Warm Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce Low Sodium
  • 2 cans Black Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • 2 cans Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies Drain off some, but not all of the liquid
  • 1 can Garbanzo Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • 1/2 small Onion (White or Vidalia) large dice
  • 4-6 oz Frozen Sliced Carrots
  • 8 ounces Tomato Sauce
  • Shredded Cheese For topping, if desired
  • Sour Cream For topping, if desired

Chili Spice Mix

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Chili Power
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika


Prepare the TVP

  1. In a medium bowl, add TVP, the warm water and Soy Sauce.

  2. Stir to combine (mixture should be watery).

  3. Allow TVP to absorb liquids for about a half hour. This is a good time to chop the onion, open and drain and rinse canned items and drink a beer.

Create Chili Spice Mix

  1. Combine all spice items in a small dish and mix gently. Set aside

Cook the TVP

  1. In a large dutch oven, stock pot or other deep pot with a lid, saute the onion in a bit of olive oil until translucent. It is OK for the onion to brown, but do not let it burn.

  2. Add the TVP to the cooked onion and continue cooking over medium heat. TVP won't brown like ground beef, but cook and stir in the same manner. The object is for it to warm and pick up the oniony olive oil flavors.

  3. Sprinkle the spice mix over the cooking TVP and onion mixture, and stir to combine throughly. Be sure to not let spices burn on bottom of pot.

Create the Chili

  1. Add all the canned ingredients and stir. If mixture is too dry, add a little water.

  2. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often to keep items at bottom of pot from sticking. 

  3. Bring to a simmer, and then add frozen carrots, stir again, and then lower heat and put lid on pot.

  4. Cook until carrots are tender, and then serve. Add topping as desired.

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