Sometimes called Chilli Sin Carne (chilli without meat), this Vegetarian Chilli Con Carne is a great vegetarian or even vegan alternative to the traditional beef Chilli Con Carne. You can make the recipe your own and experiment with substituting ingredients such as sweet potato and carrot for butternut.
Using red wine and black beans in the sauce give it a strong and rich flavour. Just remember to choose a vegetarian red wine as well. The wine and beans coupled with sweet potato make this vegetarian chilli the perfect comfort food without the guilt. It has the added benefit of using a variation of bean sizes, with the black and kidney beans, uplifting the texture for a well-rounded pot of chilli.
I prefer to stay away from meat substitute products as it’s highly processed and not necessarily better for you or the planet. Black beans can still provide great texture and a “chunky” feel when cooked within their own starchy juices, a bit like refried beans. Black beans also make great vegetarian spaghetti and “meatballs” or you can try a vegetarian vetkoek.
If you’re super proactive and like to plan ahead, this vegetarian chilli is a good recipe for batch cooking. You can easily double or triple the ingredients and freeze the leftovers in a mason jar or toxin-free container for a quick and easy dinner when you’re tired or on the run.
Optional Condiments for your Vegetarian Chilli
This version pictured is not vegan as I enjoy serving mine with a bit of cheese and sour cream, which for our family still means reducing the amount of meat we eat. But you can easily swap these out with vegan substitutes.
Here is our list of condiment options:
- Wedges of lime
- Guacamole made with avocado, onion, tomato, coriander/cilantro and lime
- Sour cream, yoghurt or creme fraiche
- Grated cheddar cheese
- Tortilla crisps
- Extra coriander/cilantro
Vegetarian Chilli Con Carne with Black Beans, Sweet Potato and Red Wine Sauce
- 2 organic onions chopped
- 1 400g can black beans, with the liquid
- 2 tbsp organic vegetable oil
- 1 large sweet potato (roughly 300g), chopped into small chunks
- 2 cloves garlic finely chopped
- 1 tsp paprika, plus extra for dusting
- 1.5 tsp cumin, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for dusting
- 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 180 ml red wine
- 1 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 1 400g can red kidney beans, roughly drained
- 20 g fresh coriander/cilantro finely chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 200C, 180C fan or gas mark 6.
Roast the sweet potato
- Add the sweet potato along with a few lugs of oil into a baking tray or pyrex dish, sprinkle with a bit of cinnamon, cumin and paprika and roast in the oven for 20 mins.
In the meantime make the beans
- In a small pan add half the chopped onions, a tablespoon of oil and half the chopped garlic cloves. Fry until the onions soften, then add half of the spices and fry until they become aromatic.
- Add the black beans and a dash of the red wine into the pan and simmer slowly until all the water has disappeared. Then mash the beans roughly so that they resemble re-fried beans.
Start the vegetables
- While the beans are cooking and the sweet potato is in the oven. Heat the rest of the onion and oil in a large casserole size pan and soften. Add the garlic and rest of the spices. Fry until they become fragrant.
- Add the carrots, red pepper, red wine, tomato and kidney beans to the pan. Simmer with the lid on until the carrots are nice and soft. You can add a splash of water if the mixture becomes too dry.
Combine everything into the large pan
- Once the carrots are nice and soft, add the black bean mixture to the large pan and simmer for a few minutes. Then add the sweet potato and coriander. Simmer for roughly 5 minutes.
- I like to let my chilli rest for about 20 mins before serving as the flavours deepen during this time. But you can serve immediately with rice and condiments of your choice.
- This recipe makes 4 large or 6 smaller portions and is perfect for freezing
- If you don’t have red wine you can replace it with the same volume of vegetable stock and 2 tbsps of Balsamic Vinegar
- The reason for cooking the beans separately is to ensure that everything doesn’t become too mushy