“I’m Not Vegan, But My Chili Is” (A Recipe And A Chili Cook-Off Recap)

My office hosted its first annual chili cook-off event yesterday, and it was basically THE event of the season*.

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(*Slight exaggeration? Okay, yes, maybe. But it was still super fun. And there were 17 entries! Pretty solid for Year One.)

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I even helped promote said event with a video that was circulated around the office. The concept? I’m making chili and my newly dead mother (played my a male co-worker, naturally) comes by to visit and offer advice/criticism on her way up to heaven. (You know — pretty much an everday chili-related scenario.) Here are a couple of “family photos” from that shoot:

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I opted to try a chili recipe I’d never made before (I know, I’m so daring) and it turned out well! It’s pretty different as far as chili recipes go (it’s a vegan soyrizo sweet potato version that doesn’t even have beans or tomatoes), but I really liked it and will be making it again. (Mine won best veggie chili! Out of two veggie options. But still.)

I’d never used dried mushrooms in a recipe, but like their addition in this dish. You can use any variety of dried mushroom, but I went with oyster. To hydrate, rinse dried mushrooms and add to a saucepan with three cups of water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for 15 minutes. Drain mushrooms, reserving liquid stock. Filter stock through a cheesecloth before using.

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Without further ado, here’s how to make my chili cook-off entry: “I’m Not Vegan, But My Chili Is” Chili:


  • 2.5 ounces dried ancho chili peppers, stems and seeds removed
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 4 closed garlic, peeled
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 12 ounces soy chorizo (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 4 ribs of celery, divided
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 4 small sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, diced
  • 3 ounces dried mushrooms (such as shitake, oyster, etc.), hydrated and finely chopped (see details above)
  • 3 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons agave
  • 3/4 cup reserved mushroom stock
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cilantro (for topping)

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  • In a large saucepan, combine dried chilies, roughly chopped onion, and garlic cloves with enough water to cover. Bring to boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer for 15 minutes.
  • While that pot simmers, heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil, swirling to coat pot. Add soyrizo (removed from casing) and brown lightly, about five minutes. Add diced celery, finely chopped onion, and diced bell pepper, and salt liberally. Saute until vegetables are crisp-tender (another several minutes).
  • Add diced hydrated mushrooms, chili powder, oregano, cinnamon, cumin, and agave, and cook until spices are fragrant. Add potatoes and sun-dried tomatoes, tossing to combine.
  • Drain the chilis, onion, and garlic cloves, reserving one cup of liquid, and combine three ingredients and cup of liquid in a food processor. Puree until very smooth.
  • Add pureed chilis, reserved mushroom stock, bay leaves, and 2 cups water to veggie mixture. Bring chili to a boil, then cover, reduce heat to a low simmer, and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, adding salt and pepper to taste. Remove bay leaves and serve topped with cilantro.


One thought on ““I’m Not Vegan, But My Chili Is” (A Recipe And A Chili Cook-Off Recap)

  1. Yay for delicious, non-meat chili! If you’re looking for another recipe, the one I posted on my blog recently is excellent. You won’t even need a meat substitute.

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