Manly Meatless Chili

In Recipes, Salads & Soups, Winter Soup by John Robinette0 Comments

This hearty and spicy chili is packed with protein thanks not only to beans, but tempeh which gives it a meaty texture.

Football and chili go together like Jackie and Jane, sitting in a tree. K-I-S-S-I-N-G! First comes love, then comes marriage, then come the chili in my tummy. Special shout-out to our family 10-year-old for that inspiration. Anyway, chili is hearty, and spicy, and is a perfect main dish for your football party. You could make this as just a plain old bean chili, but I add in crumbled tempeh to jack up the protein and to give the chili a familiar texture. You could use another meat substitute, but I prefer the soy based tempeh to the gluten-based substitutes. Plus, tempeh is an “old” food, not a new manufactured food trying to pretend it is meat.

If you are new to tempeh, it has its origins in Indonesia, but thanks to its nutritional profile, it has gained popularity around the world. It is made from fermented soy beans and typically comes packaged in rectangles and is found in the refrigerated section of your grocery store. Because it is less processed than it’s soy-cousin tofu, it has more calories per serving, but also more protein and fiber.

Now, what makes good chili is the complexity of flavors from the aromatics, like onion and garlic, to the choice of spices and the heat of the jalapeno. Meat-based chili gets much of it’s flavor complexity from the meat itself . For my meat-free chili, I use a couple non-traditional chili ingredients for extra flavor complexity which you can find at most grocery stores. See Notes below.

Manly Meatless Chili
Serves 12
This hearty and spicy chili is packed with protein thanks not only to beans, but tempeh which gives it a meaty texture.
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Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr 30 min
216 calories
25 g
0 g
7 g
14 g
3 g
214 g
205 g
2 g
0 g
3 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 216
Calories from Fat 59
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 7g
Saturated Fat 3g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Cholesterol 0mg
Sodium 205mg
Total Carbohydrates 25g
Dietary Fiber 7g
Sugars 2g
Protein 14g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
  1. 2 Tbs coconut oil
  2. 2 8-ounce packages of tempeh, crumbled
  3. I medium yellow onion, chopped, about 2 cups
  4. 3 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed in your garlic press
  5. 3 Tbs ground cumin
  6. 1 Tbs ground coriander
  7. 1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes
  8. 1 Tbs Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base
  9. 1 29-ounce can black beans
  10. 1 25-ounce can kidney beans
  11. 1 12 oz bottle dark beer
  12. 1 jalapeño, minced,
  13. 1 tsp marmite
  14. ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  15. Sea salt to taste
  1. In a large stock pot, sauté and stir frequently the crumbled tempeh and chopped onion in the coconut oil for approximately 5 minutes or until the onions are translucent.
  2. Add garlic, cumin, and coriander and sauté another 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add the can of whole tomatoes and all the liquid, then the Better Than Bouillon. Stir to dissolve.
  4. With a potato masher, break up the whole tomatoes into smaller pieces, being careful not to squeeze tomato juice on you (yes, I’ve done that). Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to maintain the simmer for about 5 minutes.
  5. Add black beans and kidney beans, including the liquid, followed by the beer. Stir to combine all ingredients until the beer foam settles, then add jalapeño, marmite, and smoked paprika.
  6. At this point, the chili will be very liquidy and soupy. Return heat to a simmer and continue to simmer, uncovered, for about 30-60 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a thick stew-like consistency. Stir occasionally to prevent burning on the bottom. When it reaches the consistency you want, turn off the heat and let it rest 15 minutes before serving.
  7. Enjoy with chopped white onion, on top of white rice, or pasta, or just as it is!
  1. I also use coconut oil, but use the oil you prefer for sautéing veggies.
One of my favorite non-traditional chili ingredients is marmite. It may be a bit harder to find, and if you can't locate it, just leave it out. No harm. But marmite, like its Australian cousin vegemite, comes from the UK and is a salty, yeasty goo. The Brits put it on sandwiches and toast, but I use it in soups ans stews all the time. Why do I use it all the time? I will tell you
  1. Umami.
  2. What the heck is umami? Well, the Japanese first “discovered” umami and consider it one of the 5 “tastes” along with salty, sweet, sour, and bitter. The only way I can describe it is as a warm, savory, earthy flavor. Think roasted mushrooms and truffles, and also think meat and meat broth, and smoked food, particularly salmon. That classic warm, savory flavor imparted by cooked meats and soup stocks is something that many vegan recipes have a hard time replicating. But I’ve discovered marmite, and a couple other simple seasoning “tricks” that will put the umami in even in a meat-free dish.
  3. Marmite is also jam packed with vitamin B12 which is important in a meat-free diet. I found marmite at Whole Foods, but you can also order it online. I consider it a “must have” in your spice cabinet.
  4. I also use Better Than Bouillon Roasted Vegetable food base. It’s a wonderful and versatile flavor blend which I use often in soups and stews, and sometimes curries. It comes in a jar and you dissolve the paste in water. I use it in this chili recipe as a way to create a flavor base on top of which the other flavors sit. Both Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base and marmite are vegan.
  5. The third seasoning trick I use is smoked paprika. Only a little is needed and I think you’ll agree that the addition of some subtle smokiness will make this chili a standout.
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John Robinette

John Robinette

John is married to Lori and father of two awesome young men all of whom he shares his passion for the environment. When he is not Chief Strategy Officer for Sister Eden he loves to cook and read and be outdoors and fantasizes about hiking the Appalachian Trail. Other essays by John about life, death, and love can be found at his blog Hole in the Sun.

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John Robinette

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