October is National Chili Month (the dish not the pepper) and in celebration, I thought I would bring this tried and true recipe to your attention. Having grown up in the Southwestern United States, making a good chili carries with it a sense of pride.

From "A Texas Scrapbook: San Antonio's Military PlazaA few fun facts about chili: 

  • It is the state food of Texas.
  • There is dispute about its creation. Cowpokes get the credit, but long before the cattle trail the Chili Queens of the military plazas in San Antonio and other towns  were selling this hearty concoction to road weary travelers.  
  • The Incas and Aztec also had versions of a combination of beans and chili.
  • While the chili trail is well documented and guilty of very tall Texas tales, chili con carne  simply means “peppers with meat” in Spanish.

Here’s a really great article for more information. http://www.chilicookoff.com/History/History_of_Chili.asp

I learned to cook this dish when I was young, at my grandmother’s side, and during my time as a cook I learned more varieties of chili. These were the creations of the chefs I worked under, not my own. As a vegan chef I’ve experimented with various plant proteins, instead of  those chunks of beef that trail cooks threw into their pots.

spoon of chiliTempeh is my chosen protein. It is a fermented soybean cake that comes in a  variety of flavors. I’ve tried firm tofu, tvp (not a fan, bad childhood memories), and other non-meat proteins. Through experimentation I’ve found that tempeh holds up the best to give this chili recipe a firm texture.

I use several different chili peppers to give it a fiery flavor. The addition of lime adds the acidity that makes this dish such a crowd-pleaser. It’s best to use my basic vegetable stock to add a depth of flavor — and don’t forget the onions

You will notice the absence of tomatoes in this recipe. I’m not sure of the how or why tomatoes were put in chili beans or chili con carne, but where I grew up we use peppers, beans, onions, stock (suet in the original recipes), and meat. I continue this time honored tradition by keeping to chilies, beans, and veggie protein.

Black Bean & Tempeh Chili
A happy mix between tempeh, chilies, and black beans.
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Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 45 min
Prep Time
45 min
Cook Time
2 hr
Total Time
2 hr 45 min
  1. 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  2. 2 carrots, diced
  3. 1 red pepper, diced
  4. 1 green pepper, diced
  5. 1/4 cup onions, diced
  6. 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  7. 1 jalapeno, diced
  8. 1/2 poblano chili, diced
  9. 1 anaheim chili, diced
  10. 1 yellow waxy chili
  11. 1 tbsp cumin powder
  12. 1 tbsp. coriander powder
  13. 2 tbsp red chili powder
  14. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it hot)
  15. 1 lb tempeh, minced
  16. Juice of 2 or 3 limes
  17. 1 cup cooked black beans
  18. 1 cup cooked red kidney beans
  19. 4 cups Vegetable Stock
  20. Chopped cilantro for garnish
  21. Lime wedges for garnish
  1. In a sturdy stock pot, heat up the oil. Add the carrots, peppers, onion, garlic, and chilies.
  2. Saute on a medium low heat until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add cumin, coriander, chili powder, and cayenne. Cook for a minute or two more.
  4. De-glaze with the lime juice.
  5. Add the tempeh and stir to incorporate all the ingredients.
  6. Add the beans and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil
  7. Turn down the heat and cover. Simmer on a low heat for 2 hours. This ensures that all the flavors infuse together and makes a tasty and comforting chili.
  1. Serve garnished with cilantro and cashew lime crema.
Kitchen Shaman http://www.kitchenshaman.com/