Meatless chili with Soy Curls and beans is a hearty, meal-in-a-bowl style soup. A great weekday lunch or dinner. Makes terrific leftovers too! Vegan & gluten-free.
This time of year, I need all of the cozy, warming foods to get me through. That means that meatless chili becomes a mainstay in my kitchen.
It is also great for meal prep because chili only gets better in the refrigerator, where the flavors can really marinate and meld.
Make it on Sunday. And the last bowl on Thursday is even more delicious than the first. You can’t say that about every dish!
Meatless chili is also handy for repurposing throughout the week. You can have a bowl of chili on Sunday, vegan chili cheese tater tots on Monday, a vegan chili dog on Tuesday, and vegan chili dog pizza on Wednesday.
And if you really want to make a big batch, remember that chili freezes well!
Today’s meatless chili has a smoky edge from smoked paprika. It has layers of flavor from onions, garlic, spices, fire roasted tomatoes, hot sauce, and a tad bit of mustard for tang.
Finally, it has a filling, chewy quality by way of Soy Curls.
They add a meaty texture to meatless chili. Plus, it’s a gluten-free option for folks who can’t eat seitan.
(If you don’t have or don’t like them, some seitan chorizo would work well here as a replacement!)
How do Soy Curls taste?
On their own, they don’t have much in the way of flavor. There’s a slight beaniness to the taste, which makes sense since the only ingredient is non-GMO soybeans.
But once they have been rehydrated in broth, drained, and seasoned with spices, the added seasonings are the flavors that become pronounced.
For my meatless chili, I like to chop them into small pieces. That way the spices can quickly dominate and take over without a long cooking time.
By the way, if you have crumbs at the bottom of the bag, don’t throw them away! Just add them to the rehydrating liquid. They become a great crumble size for this meatless chili (or for soup!)
What’s the difference between Soy Curls and TVP?
Soy Curls and TVP are similar, because they’re both made from soybeans. The difference is that the curls are made from the whole soybean, while TVP is made from de-fatted soy flour.
The curls are made by cooking soybeans, texturizing, and then drying them. (Since they’ve been dehydrated, they need to be introduced to liquid again to puff back up.)
Where to find Soy Curls
They originated in Oregon. And they continue to be popular there.
But outside of Oregon, they can be a little harder to find. I’m able to buy them locally at Natural Grocers. You can also purchase them online.
As a third option, remember that it never hurts to ask your local grocer to order products that you like.
How to store them
Since the curls don’t have any preservatives, they can go rancid over time if left on the shelf. You can extend their shelf life by keeping them in the freezer or refrigerator.
(If you put them in the freezer, you don’t need to defrost them before using.)
I keep mine in the refrigerator.
How to make this recipe
Start by rehydrating the Soy Curls in warm broth or water. After ten minutes have passed, drain them in a fine mesh sieve.
Chop them into small pieces and set aside.
Sauté onions, garlic, and bell pepper in oil in a big soup pot.
After a few minutes, add the drained Soy Curls, so that they can get a little color and dry out some more. (The drier they are to start, they more they can fill up with the chili seasonings.)
Add spices and seasonings to the mixture, and get everything fully coated.
Then deglaze the pot with water, making sure to pick up any spices that are stuck at the bottom of the skillet. Add fire roasted tomatoes and beans.
Bring the chili to a simmer. Then lower the heat and cook for about ten minutes.
I like to serve my meatless chili with taco chips crushed on top. Of course, crackers would also work.
Other delicious chili topping ideas include: non-dairy cheese, diced onions, avocado, jalapeño peppers, and/or non-dairy sour cream.
Meatless chili with Soy Curls & beans
- ½ cup Soy Curls
- 1 cup vegetable broth warmed
- 1 teaspoon organic canola oil or other neutral-flavored oil
- ¼ medium-sized bell pepper red, orange, or yellow. Chopped small.
- ½ medium-sized onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- ¾ teaspoon ancho chili powder
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon granulated onion
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce I used Frank's red hot sauce.
- ½ teaspoon stoneground mustard
- 1 cup water
- 14.5 ounces fire roasted diced tomatoes from can
- 1 ½ cups pinto beans drained
- 1 ½ cups black beans or red kidney beans, drained
- In a medium-sized bowl, cover Soy Curls in 1 cup of warm broth (or water) and set aside for ten minutes for them to hydrate. After they have hydrated, drain them in a fine mesh sieve. Then chop them into small chunks. Set aside.
- In a soup pot, bring oil to a medium heat. Add red bell pepper, onion, and garlic to the pot and sauté until fragrant, about three minutes.
- Add the drained Soy Curls to the pot. Let them brown for a couple of minutes. Then add ancho chili powder, dried oregano, paprika, smoked paprika, cumin, granulated onion, salt, hot sauce, and stoneground mustard. Fully combine the spices with the mixture. Make sure everything is evenly coated, and cook for a minute or two more. (If the pot gets too hot and things start to burn, lower the heat.)
- Add a cup of water to the pot to deglaze it. Use a spoon to make sure that any spices stuck to the bottom are incorporated in the liquid. Then add the fire roasted tomatoes with their liquid, pinto beans, and black beans (or red kidney beans if using). Bring the chili to a simmer.
- Once it is simmering, turn the heat to low and continue to cook for about ten minutes more to let the flavors meld, stirring occasionally. Then ladle the chili into bowls and serve.
Original recipe posted July 2013. Photos, recipe, and content updated February 2019.