White Bean Chili
I am the kind of person who really will drive hours for a bowl of chili. I’m not a 3-star restaurant kind of person; I’m just a food person. ~Nora Ephron
Chili is about as American as it gets; right up there with apple pie. An American dish with Mexican roots (“Chili con Carne”), chili has been around for hundreds of years according to the International Chili Society (www.chilicookoff.com) and probably originated with the Aztecs and Mayans although chili as we know it today was popularized by cattle drivers and trail hands during the 1800’s. Flash forward a few hundred years and chili is still a very popular dish in America although there are literally thousands of variations, as evidenced the Chili Cook-offs across the country.
Being plant-based or simply desiring a healthier version of this classic dish without sacrificing flavor is easy with the following recipe for White Bean Chili which is an adaptation of the Purple Carrot’s recipe for White Bean Poblano Chili. My recipe omits the poblano and jalapeño peppers and uses low sodium vegetable broth in abundance to create a not-too spicy white bean chili that is wholesome, delicious, and as American as it gets.
Besides the beans and spices, the TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) is the magic ingredient that makes the chili taste like the meaty classic. Textured Vegetable Protein is generally made from soy (although it can also be made from wheat and oats) where the natural oil has been removed from the flour. High in protein (about 12 grams per 1/4 cup), TVP is an ideal meat substitute for recipes that call for ground meat because it mimics the texture.
Dry, the product looks like bread crumbs used for stuffing but when mixed with liquid, the TVP looks like ground chicken or turkey meat. I have often thought of it as dehydrated tofu. The great thing about TVP is that it takes on the flavor of whatever spices are used. In this case, chili powder, cumin, garlic, and shallots. TVP can be purchased at Whole Foods Markets and most grocery and health food stores. Bob’s Red Mill sells a 10-ounce package (at right) which is sold nationwide at grocery and health food stores.
Freshly chopped avocado and tomatoes along with cracked pepper dress the chili up and add even more flavors. Serve with cornbread and a salad, preferably with a big roaring fire in the background. The recipe is easily doubled to feed a crowd.
White Bean Chili (Makes 2 large or 4 small servings)
- 15-ounce can Cannellini Beans (no salt added), drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup TVP (textured vegetable protein – a soy product)
- 1 ear of corn
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or water)
- 1 clove garlic, pushed through a garlic press
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/4 cup chopped avocado
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Cut the corn from the raw ear of corn and set aside.
Place 1/4 cup of broth or water in a medium saucepan and turn the heat on to medium.
Add the chopped shallot and garlic to the saucepan and sauté for 2-3 minutes until fragrant.
Add the tomato paste, chili powder, and cumin. Stir to blend and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
Add 1-3/4 cup of broth or water to the saucepan along with the TVP, beans, and corn. Stir to blend and bring to a simmer. Adjust the heat to maintain a low simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the saucepan from the heat and serve.
Top with chopped tomatoes, avocados, and salt and cracked pepper (optional).