Best Vegetarian Chili

Best Vegetarian Chili

Serves 6 to 8

A mix of at least two types of beans, one creamy (such as cannellini or navy) and one earthy (such as pinto, black, or red kidney). For a spicier chili, use both jalapeños. Serve the chili with lime wedges, sour cream, diced avocado, chopped red onion, and shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese, if desired.

1 pound (21/2 cups) dried beans, picked over and rinsed

Salt

2 dried ancho chiles

2 dried New Mexican chiles

1/2 ounce dried shiitake mushrooms, chopped coarse

4 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 cup walnuts, toasted

1 (28‑ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained with juice reserved

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1–2 jalapeño chiles, stemmed and chopped coarse

3 tablespoons soy sauce

6 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 pounds onions, chopped fine

1 tablespoon ground cumin 2/3 cup medium-grind bulgur

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  1. Bring 4 quarts water, beans, and 3 tablespoons salt to boil in Dutch oven over high heat. Remove pot from heat, cover, and let stand for 1 hour. Drain beans and rinse well. Wipe out pot.

  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Arrange anchos and New Mexican chiles on rimmed baking sheet and toast until fragrant and puffed, about 8 minutes. Transfer to plate and let cool, about 5 minutes. Stem and seed anchos and New Mexican chiles. Working in batches, grind mushrooms, oregano, and toasted chiles in spice grinder or with mortar and pestle until finely ground.

  3. Process walnuts in food processor until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Transfer to bowl. Process drained tomatoes, tomato paste, jalapeño(s), soy sauce, and garlic in food processor until tomatoes are finely chopped, about 45 seconds, scraping down sides of bowl as needed.

  4. Heat oil in now-empty Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions and 11/4 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onions begin to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add cumin and ground chile mixture; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add rinsed beans and 7 cups water and bring to boil. Cover pot, transfer to oven, and cook for 45 minutes.

  5. Remove pot from oven. Stir in bulgur, ground walnuts, tomato mixture, and reserved tomato juice. Cover pot and return to oven. Cook until beans are fully tender, about 2 hours.

  6. Remove pot from oven, stir chili well, and let stand, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Stir in cilantro and serve. (Chili can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.)