Cooking Recipe

Easy Vegan Chili with TVP

This chili is easy to make, healthy, and my kids all like it, so I cook it frequently in the colder months. It’s also vegan and gluten-free.

The recipe evolved over the years (from a mediocre starting point) and I typically just cook it from memory. But a couple of people have asked for this recipe and I’d probably be more consistent if I cooked it to spec each time. I recently took notes as I made a particularly good batch and behold, a recipe.

There’s one lesser-known ingredient: TVP, which stands for textured vegetable protein. This recipe works fine without it but the TVP takes it to the next level. I keep TVP in the pantry but acknowledge it’s a divisive ingredient that some people dislike. Wikipedia notes, “Because of its relatively low cost, high protein content, and long shelf life, TVP is often used in prisons and schools, as well as for disaster preparedness.”

Without further ado, chili. It’s not spicy (unless your chili powder is powerful) so that everyone in my family can enjoy it. I like it hot so I just add hot sauce or chipotle powder to my bowl. This makes a big batch, around 8 servings. It’s good leftover and freezes well.

In short, saute the vegetables and cook a bit longer in tomatoes with spices until everything is soft. Then add beans and broth, cook a while, add TVP, cook a little more. Serve over thick, crumbled-up corn chips (Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory is the best, Fritos is fine too).

As in my lentil soup, smoke gestures at the meat that some might be expecting. Feel free to increase or modify the spices, this is a starting point.

Easy Vegan Chili with TVP

Serves about 8. I’m separating the ingredients and cooking steps so that my recipe software can parse this post correctly.


  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can (14 oz.) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika –
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 4 oz or less tomato paste. If I have an open jar of tomato sauce in the fridge, I use it up here instead of the paste. An entire 6 oz. can will make it too tomato-ey.
  • 5 cups cooked or canned beans. I use a mix of black, kidney, white, and/or pinto beans depending on what’s on hand.
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 cup textured vegetable protein (TVP)


  • Dice the onions and garlic and saute in oil.
  • Add the peppers and saute another minute or two.
  • Add the can of tomatoes and cook until peppers are soft, between 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the spices and tomato paste, stir.
  • Immediately add the beans and broth, stir.
  • Cook until beans are about done. If they’re already soft, this can be as little as couple minutes after it comes to a boil. Adjust seasoning as needed – it will probably need salt.
  • Add the TVP. TVP sponges up liquid, which makes it a good hack for drying out a too-watery dish. Here that means you may need to add more water or broth if the TVP has soaked up too much liquid after cooking for a few minutes.
  • Check seasoning and acid one last time. It may need a teaspoon of vinegar for brightness.

This is all tolerant to variation. Use different kinds of onions, beans, spices, add bay leaves, etc. Just get the overall consistency and spicing right.

I was recently tempted into making the Serious Eats Chili Paste and I have some cubes of it frozen. I added some to the latest batch of this chili and it turned out very nice. I don’t often have time for such fanciful cooking but if this recipe is too simple for you and you want to work harder for more flavor, that would be a good twist.

Long live the bean soup project!

Cooking Recipe

Simplest split pea soup

This is the simplest main dish I know. Two dry ingredients, that’s all. And it has all the benefits of bean soup: extremely healthy, my kids love it, vegan & gluten-free, easy to make, etc. Here’s my recipe.

Time: 60 minutes. Serves: the quantity I have below feeds about 8, but you could cut that in half – just keep the 1:3 ratio of the two ingredients. While this cooks, prepare some rice to add at the table. Add a vegetable and you have your meal (plus leftovers for another).


  • 1 qt split peas, rinsed if you feel like it
  • 3 qt vegetable broth (or 3 qt water + 4 bouillon cubes, added directly to the pot)
  • (optional) Hint of smoke (smoked salt or smoked paprika, to taste)

No chopping. No fresh ingredients. This can be underway in five minutes or less. Bring to a boil (if you have the lid on, this will make a mess), stir the foam back in, cover and simmer until split peas are soft (~45 minutes).

At this point I puree it, either with an immersion blender (easier) or in a blender. (If you have never pureed boiling soup in a blender, read up on it and take safety precautions). You could probably eat it unblended or just whisk it.

Serve with a scoop of rice in each bowl as a main dish. Based on the recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. Tip to Ann Arbor friends: Argus Farm Stop sells locally-grown split peas.

One weird thing to know if you’ve never cooked split pea soup: the leftovers thicken as they cool. To the consistency of Jello. You can carve it with a knife. It’s not a problem, though. When warming up leftovers, just scoop some into a soup bowl, add water to thin it out, microwave it, and stir it to a uniform consistency.