Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Recipe: Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

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Patty Catalano
Jan 31, 2018
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Despite what some Texans believe, the best chili is one where beans take center stage and vegetables get some of the spotlight. So for this number, pinto and kidney beans kick things off by spending the day simmering in a warmly spiced tomato broth. By the time you lift the lid after a long day, you will find the beans tender and the liquid thickened. Half a poblano pepper and a dash of chili powder lend a mild heat, but the secret to making this chili sing is the last-minute addition of sweet corn kernels and a splash of apple cider vinegar.

The heat of this vegetarian chili quickly thaws frozen corn kernels, preserving the pop of fresh, sweet flavor. The zing of apple cider vinegar wakes up the earthy, umami-rich flavors that mellow during cooking. Chili is a thick, hearty one-pot meal best cooked low and slow, so put away the Dutch oven and plug in the slow cooker for this one.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Dried Beans Make a Better Vegetable Chili

Slow cooker vegetarian chili is a cinch to pull together at the start of a busy work week. Simply stir all of the ingredients (except the corn and apple cider vinegar) together in the slow cooker before heading out for the day. With no meat in sight, there is no need to dirty a separate pan for browning. And because it will cook all day, dried beans are the smart and inexpensive choice.

An often-overlooked step when cooking with dried beans is to spread them out on a sheet tray to pick out tiny pebbles or broken beans that may have made it through quality control at the bean depot. After a quick rinse in the sink to wash off any dusty residue, pile the beans in the slow cooker and season the chili with a classic combination of coriander, cumin, dried oregano, and chili powder. Stir in chopped veggies, set the timer, and walk away for most of the day. Serve straight-up, with cornbread, or over a baked potato — because with a chili this thick, rich, and hearty, there's no missing the meat.

Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes Everyone Should Know

The slow cooker is a handy tool for every kind of kitchen — including ones where vegetable-driven, plant-powered, meat-free food is the order of the day. In this series we're sharing five essential vegetarian soups to make in the slow cooker.

We'll show you how to come home to a simmering pot of lentils, a better-than-the-box vegetable broth, a luxurious cream of mushroom soup, a brothy vegetable soup for chilly nights, and a classic chili that's perfect for busy weeknights or game day.

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Serves 4; makes 2 quarts

8 ounces dried kidney beans
8 ounces dried pinto beans
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes (do not drain)
3 cups water
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1/2 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Options for serving: grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, pickled jalapeños, chopped cilantro, diced avocado, lime wedges, corn chips, cornbread

Pick through the beans and remove any small rocks, debris, broken, or discolored beans, and then rinse. Transfer the beans to a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and their juices, water, onion, bell pepper, poblano pepper, oil, garlic, salt, oregano, chili powder, cumin, and coriander and stir to combine.

Cover and cook until beans are tender, about 8 hours on the LOW setting or 5 to 6 hours on the HIGH setting. Add the corn and vinegar and stir to combine. Serve with desired toppings and sides.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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