My Mom’s Homemade Vegetarian Chili

I’ve been blathering on about the delicious vegetarian chili at The OTHERSIDE Cafe on Newbury St., Sunset Grill & Tap in Allston, and randomly, if you’re in the area, or in the mood for a 3-4 hour drive from Boston – Crow’s Corner (Cafe/Bakery near Cavendish, VT).

Now I’ve finally gotten around to it: the source of my love for chili.  When I was little, we’d go to Sweet Tomatoes, which is an all-you-can-eat restaurant in Tampa, Florida.  I’m not sure if they have any locations outside of Florida, but if you’re ever in Tampa – go there! In the soup section of Sweet Tomatoes’ giant buffet, was a vegetarian chili dish.  It easily became my favorite in that section, but one day, they stopped making it vegetarian with, go figure, the addition of …you guessed it – chicken broth.

One day, my mom surprised me by making that dish I could no longer find while dining out – vegetarian chili.  Her recipe, which deviated from the Sweet Tomatoes recipe quite deliberately, was phenomenal.  I loved it even more than the chili I’d eat at Sweet Tomatoes, and since then it remains my favorite recipe and has quickly risen to the top of my list of comfort foods.

Here’s the secret:

Uma’s Vegetarian Chili

  • 1 large Potato
  • 1-2 Carrots
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 can Red Kidney Beans
  • 1 large can whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • French cut green beans
  • 1 Bell Pepper
  • 1 inch Ginger Root, finely chopped
  • Serrano Peppers, finely chopped (if you can handle the spice)
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Tomato paste
  • Water
  • Lemon juice
  • Cumin powder
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Red chili powder
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Corn chips – Fritos scoops are my favorite.
  • Sour Cream (If you like it – I’ve met many people in New England who don’t… boggles my mind.)
  1. Make paste with garlic, 1/4 of the onions, tomato paste, 1/2 cup water in a blender.
  2. Put the paste along with the rest of the onions in a large sauce pan and cook for 1-2 minutes
  3. Add all but the canned vegetables and 1 cup water/enough water to cover all of the vegetables and cook until all vegetables (especially carrots/potatoes – those are tough veggies) are al dente.
  4. Add canned vegetables and let simmer for 10-15 minutes
  5. Add 1 tbsp (or more, depends on taste) of each cumin and chili powders.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  The chili should be spicy/tangy, but make sure the spice doesn’t overpower the flavor of the vegetables.
  6. Garnish with chopped, fresh cilantro.
  7. Serve in large bowls with corn chips and sour cream.
  8. Enjoy!
  • Do you have your own chili recipe? How is it different?
  • My sister adds corn to her chili. What other vegetables do you think make a good chili?
  • Any questions about the flavor or consistency?
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3 responses to this post.

  1. Sounds delicious!
    I recently made my own vegetarian chili and it turned out pretty good, but I wouldn’t have thought to add ginger or carrots to it. I’ll have to try this recipe sometime soon.

    Normally this is where I’d say, “Isn’t it such a bummer that good vegetarian chili is hard to find when you eat out?” — but, really, if you can make your own and it’s better than store-bought stuff, then it’s a blessing in disguise. 🙂

    Reply

  2. My mom makes a great veg chili cheese fries using soy morningstar crumbles. I don’t really like beans so no beans for us. I’m going to have to try it with the ginger root.

    Reply

  3. You were right, this looks delicious, I may need to make some of my own! After I recover from my turkey coma that is!

    Reply

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