This is my vegetarian version of the famous Wick Fowler’s chili, which can be made from the original recipe (which calls for the boxed mix), from the many copycat recipes online (like this or this, or this or this) or from the current instructions appearing on the boxed mix. I’ve tweaked the recipe to suit my tastes and to make it work with beans or soy crumbles. You could also use real ground beef (use 2 lbs.), but you will need to take extra time to brown the ground beef and drain off excess fat.
Wick Fowler, in case you are curious, was a journalist, war correspondent and chili aficionado. He started selling his chili mix in 1964, a few years before helping to start an annual chili cook-off in Texas which ended up eventually morphing into two cook-offs (the convoluted history of the Terlingua chili cook-offs, both the original Terlingua Championship and that of the Chili Appreciation Society International can be found here).
Real chili aficionados would be appalled by the idea of a vegetarian chili, especially one seasoned as mildly as mine. All the same, my family and friends love this recipe.
If you can find a box of Wick Fowler’s Two Alarm or False Alarm Chili mix, you are all set. Just follow the instructions on the box, using discretion with the salt and the chili powder, adding it to taste. If you don’t have the mix, you just need to make a little more effort. The amount of beans and/or soy crumbles is adjustable, depending on how many you would like to serve. The below amount should serve about 6-8.
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minecd
1 red bell pepper, chopped
enough olive oil to generously cover bottom of large pot
24 ounces soy crumbles or minced seitan or 29 ounce can small red beans, drained (or 14.5 ounce can beans and 14.5 ounce can lentils)
1-2 tsp. dried oregano (use 1 tsp. first and add more later to taste, if desired)
1 Tbl. cumin
1 Tbl. paprika
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1-2 Tbl. Ancho chili powder or good chili powder (or more, to taste–the boxed mix gives you about a half cup of chili powder, but that is too much for me)
1 tsp, chipotle sauce, or more to taste (optional)
salt, to taste
8 ounces tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
14.5 ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (or other diced tomatoes)
14,5 ounce can small red beans, drained
2 Tbl. masa harina (corn flour, optional, for a thicker chili)
Saute the onion, garlic and pepper in the olive oil until render. Add the soy crumbles and saute until heated through. Add the cumin and oregano. Add the tomato sauce and the water. Add the paprika and chili powder. Add the diced tomatoes and beans. Simmer for a half hour, adjusting seasoning to taste, adding salt as needed. Add the masa harina mixed with a little water to make a slurry. Cook another 15-20 minutes, or until thickened.