Introduction: Spicy Merlot Vegan Chili

I started on my vegetarian journey 5 years ago because of health & environmental concerns. I've found many vegan/vegetarian recipes devoid of taste. I realized that if I wanted to have tasty recipes, I would have to create them myself. This was my chili with meat recipe that I modified to be more healthy. It has loads of flavor AND is vegan. I love making a big pot on a cold day. This recipe makes enough for a crowd and the chili freezes and reheats easily.

Step 1: Make the Chili Spice Mixture

Don't be intimidated with the many herbs and spices you will need. These add complexity to the chili that I promise you will appreciate when you eat it. However, for those who don't like things too spicy, you might want to omit the cayenne pepper.

Chili Spice Mixture

  • 2 Tbsp Ancho Chili Powder
  • 2 Tbsp Basil (dried)
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (omit if desired or add more to increase spiciness)
  • 2 Tbsp Chipotle Chili Powder
  • 1/2 Cup Chili Powder
  • 4 Tbsp Kosher Salt
  • 2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
  • 4 Tbsp Oregano (dried)
  • 2 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 Tbsp Sage
  • 1 Tbsp Thyme (dried)

Place all the herbs and spices into a small bowl. With a spoon, mix spice mixture until uniform.

Step 2: Collect the Following Additional Ingredients

Additional Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp Garlic (minced)
  • 2 Whole Medium Onion (chopped)
  • 1 Whole Red/Green Bell Pepper chopped
  • 6 Cans Diced Tomatoes (14 oz.)
  • 2 Small Bottles Merlot/Pinot Noir
  • 1 Can Tomato Paste (12 oz.)
  • 5 Cans of red kidney beans rinsed
  • 1/2 Cup Parsley (chiffonade) optional

Step 3: Mince Garlic

Mince about 5-6 garlic cloves. This will yield about 3 tablespoons.

Step 4: Chop Onions

Chop two medium onions.

Step 5: Prepare the Red/Green Bell Pepper

Using red or green bell pepper is a personal decision. My daughter likes green peppers but my son doesn't like its strong taste.

Preparing the Red/Green Bell Pepper

  1. Cut pepper in half. Remove the green stem and seeds.
  2. Slice it into 1/2 inch slices.
  3. Chop the sliced pepper slices. The pieces should be the same size as the chopped onions.

Step 6: Add Olive Oil to the Pot

Add 1/4 cup of olive oil into the large stock pot and put it on low heat.

Step 7: Cook Onions, Bell Pepper, and Garlic

  1. Add the chopped onions, bell pepper, and garlic into the pot.
  2. Cook on Medium Low heat until the onions are translucent. This will take about 10 minutes.

Don't rush this step! Having under-cooked crunchy onions will ruin the chili.

Step 8: Add Chili Spice Mixture

Dump the the Chili Spice mixture into the pot. Mix for 30 seconds. Make sure the spices don't burn.

Step 9: Add Diced Tomatoes

  1. Open 6 cans of diced tomatoes.
  2. Add the diced tomatoes with its juices into the pot.

Step 10: Add Merlot Wine

I'm not much of a wine drinker but it is essential in making this tasty chili. Merlot and Burgundy are the same type of medium bodied wine. French won't allow wines outside of France being called Burgundy and so American wines are called Merlot.

  1. Add 2 small cooking sized Merlot bottles into the pot. (If you have a large bottle, you can substitute 2 cups instead.)
  2. Mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed.

Step 11: Add Tomato Paste

Tomato Paste gives the chili a tomato boost.

Add 1 can and stir until the ingredients are mixed.

Step 12: Add the Red Kidney Beans

Personally, I love beans! My recipe is chock full of beans but if you want to put less, feel free to add less.

  1. Open 5 cans of red kidney beans.
  2. Rinse the kidney beans in a colander under cold water.
  3. Add the beans to the stock pot.
  4. Mix well.

Step 13: Simmer the Chili

Let the chili simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.

Step 14: Chop Parsley

If you don't have fresh parsley, you can omit this step. However, I personally love fresh herbs in my dishes since they bring a different character to a dish. Since fresh herbs do the best if added to food just before serving, waiting until you are about to serve the chili. Chopped herbs also makes a nice garnish.

  1. A small bunch of Parsley is about 1/4 cup.
  2. Gently pull off the Parsley Leaves from the stem.
  3. Roughly chop the Parsley Leaves.
  4. Add the chopped Parsley into the stock pot.

Step 15: Serve and Enjoy!

Chili is so versatile! Our family prefers eating the chili over pasta like spaghetti. Additionally, the chili can be served over rice. Of course, you can also eat it with some tortilla chips too. Top with vegan sour cream and vegan cheese.

Optional Vegetarian Topping:
For non-vegans like my husband and son, add sour cream and shredded cheddar cheese.

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