Finely minced roasted mushrooms and chickpeas stand in for the “meat” in this incredible vegan chili. The rich deep flavor and hearty texture will have everyone coming back for more. Treat this as a base recipe and customize it to your own family’s preferences!
Yes it really has taken me this long to post a vegetarian chili recipe! Let’s discuss.
There are plenty of options for meatless chili and I’ve tried them all at one point or another. Lentils, quinoa, all-bean, chunky vegetables. It’s all good, it’s all fine. Everyone will have their favorite approach. But sometimes meatless chili can stray into “bean/vegetable stew with spices” territory. This is my offering for those who want the option to make a totally plant based chilli which more closely resembles a beefy version. It also works as a base recipe which can be built up with any of the extras you do want to include!
The “meat” is made from roasted chickpeas and mushrooms
This is a concept I’ve used a couple of other times, to make both spaghetti bolognese and taco meat. It just works quite perfectly. We roast chickpeas and mushrooms, then pulse them in a food processor to mince them up into something resembling ground meat.
We fry that up with spices (a lot – A LOT – of spices are needed here!) and we end up with something incredibly flavorful, with a robust and “meaty” texture.
Why do we need to roast the mushrooms and chickpeas first?
I really do find that it makes a difference to the resulting texture. Roasting the mushrooms concentrates the flavor and makes for a firmer texture, as well as infusing them with oil and richness. Roasting the chickpeas gets them firmer and drier and able to “mince” up too, without just turning to mush. Some chickpeas do remain whole, but they still have a little bit of a “bite” to them.
Ingredient Notes & Substitutions
- Mushrooms: You don’t really taste mushroom at all in this, so you don’t need anything fancy, but you do want something hearty. Portobellos or chestnut mushrooms both work very well here.
- Salt and spices: There’s quite a lot of salt and spice in this recipe. The mushroom chickpea mixture drinks up a ton of flavor and doesn’t contribute much of its own, so we have to compensate! I like to use some whole spices in the mix (cumin and fennel seeds) for extra depth, and cocoa powder for a little additional richness that you can’t quite place. If you don’t want to be dealing with all of this – please do feel free to use a packet of ready made chili seasoning! Ready mixed seasoning mixes can be super salty, but that is a good thing for this recipe.
- Canned tomatoes and tomato paste: I used chopped tomatoes, but you could use any kind you like depending on the texture you prefer. You could even use passata if you’d rather have something more smooth.
How to adapt this recipe to your preferences
As you can see, this chili has a fairly uniform, thick texture. There aren’t a lot of “bits”. It’s not soupy. So that’s our baseline. But you can make it whatever you want!
- If you’re looking for something more varied and veggie packed, go for it! Add peppers and corn, or even things like sweet potatoes and zucchini, whatever your heart desires.
- Since there’s already chickpeas, I didn’t add any additional beans, but you could definitely throw in a can of black or kidney beans if your chili doesn’t feel right without them!
- If you want a more soupy chili, I’d recommend adding additional tomato paste + water to achieve this – it will give you some extra smooth, thick liquid.
- If you do expand on this recipe with more elements, you’ll want to add additional tomatoes and spices too – the alternative is to cut the quantities of mushrooms and chickpeas in half in so that the original recipe has “space” for the extras, and then the recipe can be followed as written.
Mushroom & Chickpea Chilli
- 2 lb (2 lb) mushrooms, larger mushrooms can be sliced into thick strips, smaller mushrooms can be halved
- 28 oz (28 oz) canned chickpeas, drained and patted dry
- 28 oz (28 oz) canned tomatoes
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- olive oil, for cooking
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tbsp chili powder, increase to your tastes
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp ground coriander
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp salt
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- Prepare the mushrooms. Arrange the mushrooms on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, using a spatula to mix it all around and ensure that everything is coated with the oil. Then add a nice sprinkling of salt. Place in the oven on the top shelf. These will roast for about 20-25 minutes, until they're well browned, reduced, and the mushroom juices have mostly evaporated.2 lb mushrooms, olive oil
- Prepare the chickpeas. Scatter the chickpeas on a baking tray and drizzle with olive oil, using a spatula to mix it all around and ensure that everything is coated with the oil. Then add a sprinkling of salt. Place in the oven on the middle shelf. These will roast for about 20 minutes, until they're just browning, so it should be ready about the same time as the mushrooms.28 oz canned chickpeas, olive oil
- Pulse in a food processor. Once the mushrooms and chickpeas are ready, take them out of the oven and allow to cool down for a few minutes. Then you can start to mince them in the food processor. You will probably need to do this in batches. Scoop some of the chickpeas + some of the mushrooms into the food processor bowl and pulse several times to get the mushrooms and chickpeas "minced". You want the mushrooms broken down into tiny pieces but be careful not to go any further than that as you don't want them pureed! Some of the chickpeas will break up, with some remaining whole, but your focus is on the mushrooms.
- Empty into a bowl, and repeat until all of the chickpeas and mushrooms have been ground. It took me three batches to get through this quantity.
- In a frying pan or saute pan, heat a thin layer of olive oil. Saute the onions until they're starting to brown.olive oil, 1 large onion
- Add the mushroom chickpea mixture and the garlic, and saute for a few minutes until the onions and garlic are mixed in. If the mixture feels dry, drizzle some extra oil in.4 cloves garlic
- Move the mixture over to the sides of the pans, to free up a little space in the middle. Add some fresh oil, followed by the fennel and cumin seeds. Allow the seeds to toast for just a few moments until fragrant, before mixing them back into your mushroom chickpea mix.1 tsp fennel seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds
- Add the remaining spices and salt, and mix through.1 tbsp chili powder, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 2 tsp ground coriander, 2 tsp dried oregano, 2 tsp cocoa powder, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp cumin powder
- Add the tomato paste and mix through until it's incorporated.2 Tbsp tomato paste
- Add the canned tomatoes, and then fill one of the cans half full with water and swirl that in too.28 oz canned tomatoes
- Bring to a simmer and allow to simmer gently for at least 20 minutes.
- Serve with rice, tortilla chips and any additional toppings you enjoy.