Tin Can Chili

Want a bowl of chili, but don’t want to spend a lot of time? How about a vegan chili that tastes really good — like, you’ll never miss the meat?

I call it Tin Can Chili, because almost everything is a pantry item. It’s not award winning or hand crafted or simmered for a day. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. The only tricky part is blending part of the mixture — but that step is very important. It will turn what looks like just a big pot of beans into a chili.

You’ll need:

  • One onion, chopped fine. About a cup or two. Not picky.
  • 3 Tb chili powder.
  • 1 Tb minced canned Chipotle chili in adobe.
  • 2 tsp ground cumin.
  • 1 Tb minced garlic (optional). I keep pre-minced in the fridge.
  • 3 cans of Rotel (or similar — diced tomatoes & green chilies). Do not drain.
  • 1 large can (27 oz) of Red Kidney Beans, rinsed until water runs clear.
  • 1 large can (27 oz) of Black Beans, rinsed until water runs clear.
  • Pepper to taste.
  1. Heat about 1 Tb oil in Dutch oven or large (at least 3.5 Qt) pot, medium heat.
  2. When oil is hot, add onion and cook about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. It will soften slightly.
  3. Add chili powder, chipotle, cumin, and garlic (optional). Stir and let cook about 1 minute. You should smell the garlic and chili.
  4. Add Rotel (with juice) and beans. Stir and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Using a Pyrex measuring cup, put 2 cups of chili mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth, about 1 minute. (You can also do this with a 4 cup measure and an immersion blender, but be careful of splatters. The blender avoids this. I usually don’t use blenders, but they work best for this recipe.)
  7. Return blended mixture to pot and stir well. Taste for salt and pepper. You probably don’t need salt, as the Rotel and canned beans are already salted.
  8. Serve!

Topping ideas: cheddar cheese, toasted bread, tortilla chips, raw onion, etc. Whatever you like on your chili. It’s fantastic “plain”.

Chili, like many soups, stores well, so this is a good make-ahead meal. Though, if you have everything on hand, it only takes about 30 minutes or less (including cleanup).

Helpful Hints:

  • I’ve used genuine Rotel and cheaper imitations. The imitations work fine.
  • If you are cracking open a new can of Chipotle (find San Marcos brand in the “Mexican” section of your grocery), it’s super easy to store. Just put some dollops on a small sheet pan lined with waxed paper or parchment, freeze, and put frozen portions in a ziplock bag and keep in the freezer. I do this for Chipotle and Tomato Paste. You can always tell which is which by the smell (paste is sweet, chipotle smells smoky). Works great and saves time.
  • You can easily adjust the heat by adding more or less Chipotle. I usually end up using about 2 Tb.