Chili Sin Carne (Vegan Chili) with Dark Chocolate

A delicious and nutritious chili sin carne recipe, with a touch of delectable dark chocolate mixed through right at the end. A bowlful is comforting and hearty, and freezes well (for future you to enjoy!).

A bowl of vegan chili sin carne with garnishes.

Boyfriend chow! I have my (recently acquired, oh la la) fiancé to thank for teaching me this epic recipe. 

This dish was created, and countlessly refined, during his good old (long gone) bachelor days. When nearing a grocery shop, he’d get creative with long-life ingredients in an attempt to avoid the convenient, albeit boring, lure of two-minute noodles. 

What is Chili Sin Carne?

Chili sin carne is a vegan or vegetarian version of chili con carne (chili with meat). 

It’s inspired by similar flavours and served in a similar manner to chili con carne. This makes it a popular recipe swap for those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, or who are actively reducing red meat intake.

Nutritionally, when meat is removed from a dish, the protein content naturally decreases – this is because animal products are generally rich sources of protein, more so than plant-based foods. To help make up ‘nutritional’ ground, chili sin carne will often have a vegetarian and vegan protein-rich source subbed in – like the beans featured here!

Close up of chili sin carne.

How to Serve Chili Sin Carne

Serve up chili sin carne in a variety of ways:

  • As a flavourful meal base this chili pairs well with bland carb-rich food. Think rice, corn chips (with dairy or vegan melted cheese, duh), wraps, tortillas, toast or mashed potatoes. This bulks out the meal too, feeding many mouths!
  • Elevate it with something acidic to cut through the richness. Like fresh tomato salsa tossed with a good squeeze of lime juice. Otherwise, a nice squeeze of acidic juice (e.g. lime or lemon) will suffice alone!
  • To add creaminess dollop over mashed avocado, guacamole or a spoonful of plant-based or dairy yoghurt. 

Notes On This Recipe

There’s a couple of reasons I love this chili sin carne recipe:

  • It’s nutritious. A serving will provide a source of dietary fibre, plant-based protein and array of nutritious veg.
  • It celebrates many long-life and affordable pantry ingredients (e.g. tinned tomato, beans, spices…).
  • It’s a little bit fancy. Adding dark chocolate (for richness and a depth) and jalapeños takes it up a notch in the flavour department. The teeny bit of chocolate does wonders for helping balance out the sweetness of the tomatoes.
  • Finally, cooking time-wise think of this dish like the risotto of the chili world – it takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it.
  • You add ingredients in stages, allowing time for flavours to build and veggies to break down.
  • You’ve got about 30 minutes of sautéing before you leave it to simmer and do its thing – pour yourself a glass of red wine or kombucha, and enjoy the suspense.

Chili Sin Carne (Vegan Chili) with Dark Chocolate

Rating:

Ingredients:  

  • 2 brown onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 large carrot
  • 2 red capsicums
  • 3 Tbsp oil
  • ¼ tsp chili flakes
  • ¼ cup sliced jalapenos (from a jar)
  • A big handful of button mushrooms
  • ½ Tbsp smoked paprika
  • ½ Tbsp cumin
  • 1 tsp dried orgeano
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 400g tin of black beans
  • 2 400g tins of pinto beans
  • 2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 lime, juice (about 1 Tbsp, or more to taste)
  • 2 small squares of (roughly 10g max) dark chocolate*
  • To serve: corn chips, sliced avocado, a dollop of yoghurt, fresh herbs…

Method:

Prepare aromatics and vegetables

  • Peel and finely dice onion.
  • Peel garlic, and using the blade of a knife (a wider blade knife works well), press down hard on each garlic clove to crush.
  • Peel carrot. Grate on the small hole of a cheese grater or use a microplane. If a lot of excess juice comes out of the carrot, squeeze out most of it and discard the juice.
  • Finely slice mushrooms.
  • Slice capsicum in half, and remove inner seeds. Finely slice capsicums into long rods.

Get cooking!

  • Heat a large heavy-bottom fry-pan or pot over a medium heat. Heat the oil, then add onion. Sauté for 10 minutes.
  • Add garlic and chilli flakes, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add carrot, sauté for another few minutes.
  • Add sliced jalapenos and mushrooms, and sauté for five minutes. At this point, it might be starting to look a bit dry, so add a small splash of juice from the jalapeno jar.
  • You’ll be nearing the twenty minute mark – add cumin, smoked paprika, 2 pinches of salt and the capsicum. Turn up the heat to medium-high, until you hear the pan sizzling. Semi-fry the capsicums for a few minutes.
  • Turn down heat to medium and add tomato paste, oregano and two more pinches of salt. Sauté for a few minutes, then add tinned tomatoes and beans. Add water into one of the tomatoes cans about half way up (200ml), and pour in. Mix, then bring to the boil and turn down the heat to a low simmer. Simmer uncovered for twenty minutes.
  • Add in dark chocolate. Mix to melt in. Add in the lime juice, and mix.
  • Add in a few good grinds of the pepper shaker. Season to taste with salt. Start with adding ¼ tsp, then mix and taste until it tastes right to you – this can vary depending on a few things, like the type of salt you have or how it was reduced. I often end up doing ¾ – 1 tsp.

Notes:

*We used Whitakkers dark chocolate

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