My Go-To Vegetarian Chili (With or Without an Instant Pot!)

This chili has been a lifesaver this week. Seriously.

It is 75 degrees in my apartment, but all I can think about is how good this chili is. Yeah, that is the craziest thing I have said all day. It is 75 degrees in February and, guys, it is DANG HOT. This time of year, I am usually all about blankets and sweaters and bowls of hot steamy goodness, but here I am, in shorts.

And yet, I am still craving this chili. This whole situation makes no sense.

I think, though, we can all agree how chili is an all the time food. I used to eat Amy’s chili for a meal at least twice a week, regardless of the weather. This was of course before I really discovered my love of cooking. In all seriousness, that stuff is so dang good, y’all, especially with cornbread, rice, or potatoes. Actually, any carb will do.

I love carbs, so what can I say?

However, once I realized how EASY it is to make chili, there was no turning back. It is one of my favorite types of meals, which basically involves dumping a bunch of cans of things into a pot, cooking it for a long time and BOOM. Having dinner. If you’ve read my blog for even a second, you know how much I love these types of things.

While the ingredients in this chili recipe are super basic, the flavor is anything but. Simple ingredients can taste exceptional when they start off with aromatics like onion, carrot, celery and garlic. I added traditional chili spices and some smoked paprika for an extra-savory, smoky note. I also pack a PUNCH with some adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers). While this is totally optional, it really does bring the chili to a whole other level.

This chili comes together in literal no time, especially in you have a pressure cooker like an Instant Pot. Have I mentioned how much I love my Instant Pot? Ugh, that thing is the straight up magic. A lot of y’all have asked me if it is safe (especially after watching that episode of This is Us… Don’t even bring it up ha!) it totally is. The thing won’t turn on unless the lid is locked into place. And trust me, after falling asleep leaving a pot of beans on the stove, I would say it’s darn safer too. Now, if you are not using an Instant Pot (or even if you are!) I find that blending a small portion of the chili makes it look and taste like a chili that has been cooking all morning long, but it only needs about 30 minutes of simmering on the stove or in the dang pot.

And, as always feel free to top this ish with whatever you damn please. In this case, some serious avocado action went on top. What is chili without it? IT is simply just creamy perfection, ya feel? And, post photo, I added some of these cornbread crisps from Trader Joe’s, which I dare say are actual crack. Or you could add tortilla chips. There are also these tortilla crips are actually sweet potato tortilla chips and oh so good. Major flavor explosion.

Ok enough with the snack foods, Sarah.

Yields 6

My Go-To Vegetarian Chili
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stuff

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or avocado oil)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, seeded and chopped or 2-3 roasted red peppers from a jar
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon adobo sauce (from a can of chipotle peppers, optional)
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) or 2 small cans (15 ounces each) diced tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnishing
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

meanderings

Instant Pot Method

Hit the "saute" function on your Instant Pot. Warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, carrot, celery and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika and oregano. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, the drained black beans and pinto beans, vegetable broth, balsamic vinegar, and bay leaf. Stir to combine.

Place lid on and make sure release valve in on the "sealing" position. Press the "pressure cook" button and set the timer for 5 minutes. After the 5 minutes is up, quick-release by flipping the release valve to “venting.” Remove lid and add fresh cilantro. Scoop into individual bowls and add toppings if desired.

Stovetop:

In a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat, warm oil until shimmering. Add the chopped onion, pepper, carrot, celery and ¼ teaspoon salt. Stir to combine and then cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender and the onion is translucent, about 7 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, adobo sauce (if using), and oregano. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 1 minute.

Add the diced tomatoes and their juices, the drained black beans and pinto beans, vegetable broth, and bay leaf. Stir to combine and let the mixture come to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally and reducing heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, for 30 minutes. Remove the chili from heat.

For the best texture and flavor, transfer 1 ½ cups of the chili to a blender and blend until smooth, then pour the blended mixture back into the pot.

Add the chopped cilantro, stir to blend, and then mix in the vinegar, to taste. Add salt to taste, too—I added ¼ teaspoon more at this point. Divide the mixture into individual bowls and serve with garnishes of your choice. EAT

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