Vegetarian White Bean Chili

This is a hearty vegetarian dish. Textured vegetable protein (TVP) mimics the texture of ground beef, is easy to work with, and can handle a lot of bold flavors and spices, which is one of the main reasons it works so well in this recipe. Try making this chili for a friend and see if they can tell that it’s vegetarian- I bet you they won’t know until you tell them!

Chef Brandon shows guests how to make his vegetarian chili at February’s Cocktails in the Kitchen event in Colorado Springs

Vegetarian White Bean Chili
Serves 8

  • 1.5 cups white beans, dry
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups textured vegetable protein, dry
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cumin, ground
  • 2 tablespoons coriander, ground
  • 2 tablespoons dark chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • Kosher salt, black pepper, and lemon juice, to taste

Day before:

Soak white beans in cold water overnight. This will help them cook faster when you make the chili.

Day of:

In a medium saucepan, bring the vegetable broth to a boil. Add the TVP and stir well. Remove from heat immediately and let sit for about 5 minutes, or until it starts to fluff up a bit. 

Place a large stock pot on the stove over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil, then add the onion and peppers. Saute for 3-5 minutes, until they begin to soften. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, then add the TVP (do not drain it- the vegetable broth will add more flavor to the chili). Stir in the TVP, then add the cumin, coriander, chili powder, and paprika and stir well. Once the spices are fragrant (about 2 minutes), drain the white beans and add them.

Add enough water to the pot so that the beans and veggies are completely submerged. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Slowly add the baking soda, stirring as you go, and continue stirring for a few minutes until the foam subsides. The baking soda will help the beans cook faster.

Simmer the chili for about an hour, adding more water during cooking if necessary. Once the beans are done to your liking, season to taste with salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and let the chili sit for 5-10 more minutes so the seasonings can do their job. 

Serve over your favorite cornbread, or with some chopped scallions. Enjoy!

Chef Brandon FosterBrandon Foster began his life in the kitchen at the Best Western in Frisco, Colorado, almost 18 years ago. His passion for ingredients and drive to learn technique led him down the mountain to Denver, where he worked in two of Denver’s most fondly remembered restaurants, The Fourth Story and Mel’s. He joined the crew at Vesta in 2005 as a line cook and became executive chef in 2010, focusing on getting back to the roots of cooking through charcuterie and seasonal ingredients. Ultimately, Chef Brandon’s career highlights centered on events like Plates for the Peak, Invest in Kids, and James Beard Foundation dinners where he could play a role in helping people in need- a passion that led him to Project Angel Heart in 2016. Outside the kitchen, Chef Brandon enjoys spending time skiing, camping, golfing, and eating with his wife Larissa and their three kids.