Smoky, spicy vegetarian chili recipe

By Cathy Elton

Published February 1, 2011 1:30AM (EST)

Serves 6-8


  • 1 ¼ cups dried pinto beans
  • 1 large or 2 small dried ancho chiles
  • 1 dried guajillo chile (or substitute pasilla or more ancho)
  • 12-ounce bottle of beer, divided
  • 1 very large white (or yellow) onion, thickly sliced
  • 4 fresh serrano peppers (or substitute jalapeños)
  • 2 tablespoons canola or high-oleic safflower oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 large stalk celery, diced
  • 2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves, preferably Mexican
  • 1 package chicken-style seitan, well chopped (or substitute regular seitan)
  • 1 4-ounce can chopped fire-roasted green chiles, preferably Hatch
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from canned chipotles in adobo), minced
  • 2 ½ cups crushed tomatoes (about ¾ of a 28-ounce can)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups reserved bean cooking liquid
  • ½ ounce bittersweet chocolate
  • Fat-free sour cream and chopped red onions, for garnish


  1. Soak the beans, or use the quick-soak method. Drain, cover well with fresh cold water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 1 hour. Drain, reserving cooking liquid.
  2. Heat a cast-iron pan until very hot. Add the dried chiles and press down with a spatula and cook until the peppers begin to soften and are beginning to blacken, about 1 minute. Remove from pan, cut off the stems and shake out the seeds.
  3. Tear the chiles into pieces and place in a blender along with 1 cup of the beer, and purée until smooth.
  4. Reheat the cast-iron pan over high heat and add the onion slices and serrano peppers. Cook for about 10 minutes, turning the onions once, until they are well charred and soft.
  5. Remove the onions and chop. Cut the stems off the serranos and chop. (For a milder dish, slice the peppers lengthwise and remove the seeds before chopping.)
  6. Add the prepared onions and serranos, cumin, black pepper and oregano and cook for 2 minutes.
  7. Heat the oil over medium heat in a large heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic, celery and bell peppers and sauté for about 10 minutes.
  8. Add the seitan, fire-roasted green chiles, chipotle and chile purée and cook 2 minutes more.
  9. Add the remaining beer, tomatoes, bean cooking liquid and salt.
  10. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Add cooked beans and cook 10 minutes more.
  11. Stir in chocolate and serve, topping with fat-free sour cream and chopped onions if you’d like.

Cathy Elton

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