Smoky Chipotle Chili with Black Beans and TVP

Now that marathon training has officially started, I’m looking forward to my first track workout tonight– three miles, 6:01 pace, with a minute rest in between each.  When I did this same workout back in January right before I got injured, I could only complete the first such mile.  After that, I think I had to do a 6:30 and a 6:50.  I can’t wait to put this veggo diet to the test tonight and see the difference!

TVP Chili with Chipotle

chili-1Also as part of marathon training, I’ve decided to make even more of an effort to get the right foods in me.  We’ve been slacking a little on the grocery shopping, planning meals the day-of instead of shopping for the week.  When that happens, I tend to make what’s convenient, not what best supports my body.  This is how I fall into those three-days-in-a-row pasta ruts!

So yesterday when the electricity was strangely out for three hours, I got out some cookbooks (no power means no internet) to get some ideas for the week.  It always feels so great to do this, because when I plan my meals for the whole week I can make sure I’m getting a variety of vegetables, different types of whole grain carbs, and enough protein.  Even though I’m normally not too concerned about protein, I do want to make sure I’m not deficient now that it’s marathon season.

For dinner last night, I found a Fine Cooking recipe for Beef and Black Bean Chili.  And since TVP tacos turned out so well, I had no doubt that TVP (textured vegetable protein) would be perfect for de-beefing the chili.  TVP is a soy product, which I’m not huge on because of the potential dangers of too much soy (lower sperm count?  not good eats.) but I look at it this way.  If I eat soy every single day, in smoothies for breakfast, and for dinner as my primary protein source, then that’s too much.  Hell, if I eat carrots that often, there will probably be some weird side effects.  I think going crazy with soy consumption is what most of the fuss is about.  But if I eat soy only as often as I eat any other single vegetable, choosing to get my protein mostly from other beans and the occasional dairy product, then I’ll be just fine.  And with TVP, I can make chili, tacos, and sloppy joes taste and feel like the real thing.  (“I made ’em extra sloppy for ya!” — who can tell me where that nugget comes from?)

This chili turned out really well, considering I just sort of winged it with the TVP.  It had a great smoky heat, not that burn-your-tongue, wash-your-hands-BEFORE-you-go-to-the-bathroom heat, but a slower burn in the back of your throat that creeps up on you, so that halfway through the meal you wonder why you’re sweating.  Erin even liked it, and she’s not a spice person at all!  I don’t think the chili had quite the depth of flavor that real-meat chili does, but Erin said she thought it was indistinguishable.  I just added a little soy sauce to give the TVP a little bit of a meaty flavor; if you have other tricks for this I’d love to know about them.  Also, I like a little sweetness in my chili, so next time I’ll probably add a little brown sugar.  But there will definitely be a next time; it was that good.  Yet another four cows out of five!


Vegetarian Chili With TVP Recipe

Ingredients (for 4 servings):

  • 1.5 cups of dry textured vegetable protein (TVP)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 15-oz cans of black beans, rinsed
  • 1  15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 chipotle pepper with 2 Tbsp adobo sauce from the can
  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • juice of 1 juicy lime
  • big handful of chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • salt and pepper
  • grated cheddar cheese (optional)

Boil a cup and a half of water and pour over the TVP in a bowl.  Let stand for 5 minutes.

In a food processor (I suppose you could use a blender), process the chipotle and adobo, the tomatoes, and about a third of the beans until smooth.

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add about three quarters of the onion and saute for 3 minutes, until translucent and lightly brown.  Reduce the head and add the chili powder and cumin and saute for another 30 seconds or so, stirring frequently so that it doesn’t burn.  Add the TVP and soy sauce, black beans, and the mixture from the food processor.  Add a cup of water and let everything simmer for about 10 minutes.

While the chili simmers, combine the avocado, the remaining quarter or so of onion, and half the lime juice in a bowl.

Once the 10 minutes are up add half the lime juice and half the cilantro to the chili.  Add salt and pepper until it’s seasoned to your taste, and add more water if necessary to thin it out.  Serve, topped with the avocado mixture and garnished with cilantro and optional cheese.



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  1. The quote is from Billy Madison.

  2. That looks really good, I am going to add that to my menu soon.

  3. Wow.. this sounds really YUMM and picture is too tempting!
    .-= Ann´s last blog ..Mr and Mrs Souffle ♥♥ =-.


    Umm I am super super excited because I found a recipe for black bean and sweet potato enchiladas through your site! I’m stoked!
    .-= Annabel´s last blog ..Sequel to Food Inc. =-.

  5. Oh yum…that looks really, really tasty! I’ve never tried TVP, but I totally agree with what you said about soy. I think the problem lies in overconsumption, just like everything else out there. Too much of *anything* is never a good thing…:D

    Yep..this is going on my ever-growing “need to try” list of recipes. 😀
    .-= Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down)´s last blog ..Give me food, and nobody gets hurt…;) =-.

  6. Can’t wait to see how you do in the first track workout!

    Concerning soy… yes, you’re right in that consuming it in the amount of any other vegetable is a good idea. There are benefits but also contradictory dangers described in a number of studies. The dangers most recognized in a soy-rich diet are related to soy’s containing:

    • Phytoestrogens: (isoflavones) genistein and daidzein,
    which are plant estrogens and mimic estrogen in our
    • Phytates: which block the body’s uptake of minerals
    • Enzyme Inhibitors: which hinder protein digestion
    • Hemagglutinin: a clot-promoting substance which causes red blood cells to clump together. These clustered blood cells cannot properly absorb oxygen for distribution to the body’s tissues, and are unable to help in maintaining good cardiac health.

    This is straight out of my amino acid information summary which I compiled when I was researching the requirement of different types of amino acids and their presence in different foods. NMA told me he might provide a link to this on the site. It is a wealth of information regarding the essential amino acids and the best food sources- including the best combination of foods in order to be sure you’re consuming all the essential ones.

  7. Once I bought TVP, put it in a jar to store, and promptly dropped the jar in the middle of my kitchen… I was scarred but looking at this recipe makes me think it’s time to buy some more! Yum!!
    .-= Rebeca´s last blog ..Let Them Eat Cake =-.

  8. This looks amazing! I will definitely try it. I’ve never used TVP before but the chili looks so much like the real thing and I think my meat-loving BF will like this! I will let you know how it goes!
    .-= VeggieRunnr´s last blog ..Pizza =-.

  9. Also, Billy Madison is a total classic.
    .-= VeggieRunnr´s last blog ..Pizza =-.

  10. Great recipe! I have some TVP that needs to get used up!

  11. I make a similar “taco” soup with TVP and it always turns out sooo good. The recipe is close to yours, but with lots more chipotle (I like it HOT!) I have yet to make sloppy joes with my tvp, but I have a feeling my hubby would LOVE it. I’m totally enjoying catching up on your blog btw….glad you found me 🙂

    • Interesting, taco soup sounds good! I love chipotle and spicy stuff too, but way too many times I’ve made meals that my wife can’t eat! So while I’m in spice heaven, she has to eat cereal or something. Not good for the old marriage.

  12. Great recipe. I too usually try and plan out meals for the week. I have been really slacking in this area lately. But, summer eating is easy.
    .-= diana´s last blog ..Komen Race for the Cure =-.

    • Yeah, it’s definitely easier to eat healthier in the summer. But for me, making things on the fly doesn’t jive with marathon training. Not to mention time constraints, since marathon training takes up so much time.

  13. Gotta love Billy Madison!

    Have you ever tried putting a tablespoon or two of cocoa powder in your chili? It’s a great addition!

  14. If you want to add some meat-flavouring to your TVP you should try adding a bit of marmite. It’s a by-product of brewing and it has an amazing beef-stock like essence. I live in London so it’s easy to acquire as a breakfast spread, which is certainly not to everybody’s taste, but added to soups, stews and tvp chili it trasforms the dish by adding real depth.

    • Ryan, that’s interesting and I’ve never heard of it. I’ll look for it though. Thanks!

    • How much marmite would you add to this child?

      • I meant chilli 😳

        • Marmite is super salty, so probably not a lot. You might want to dial back the soy sauce or additional salt in the recipe if you add Marmite. I’ve seen a recipe for vegetarian chili elsewhere that yields 6 servings (3 quarts), and that author indicates a tablespoon of soy sauce and a teaspoon of Marmite; less than a teaspoon of Marmite would likely be enough for Matt’s chili, which yields fewer servings.

  15. In order to add more flavor, I would recommend using vegetable stock instead of water. I make my own by throwing my vegetable odds and ends into a quart-sized freezer bag and then boiling the contents in equal parts water for about 1 or 2 hours when it’s full. I shoot for equal parts carrot, onion, and celery. In order to add a meatier flavor, I usually throw in mushroom stems. And I always add a piece of dried kombu seaweed as well for umami (amino acid) flavor. I also add a bay leaf, sea salt, and peppercorns, but that’s all optional.

    Actually, I always add kombu during the last 30 minutes of cooking beans too.

    Also, if you added chopped green bell pepper to the onions when you’re sauteeing, it would round out the flavor even more.

    I’m curious about trying the cocoa powder as Amber Shea suggested. Sounds good.

  16. When making chili, I just throw the tvp in dry. It soaks up the spicy juicy flavor of the chili. If the mix becomes too thick, just add a bit of liquid.

    Cocoa powder is a must in my chili AND bbq sauces. It adds a depth of flavor and slight sweetness that everyone loves but can’t put their finger on. Amber knows a great secret!

    To add more flavor to tvp, soak with a variety of dried mushrooms. I like buying “steak blend” & “sauce blend” mixes of dried mushrooms. If you don’t want mushrooms in whatever you’re making with the tvp, simply take them out & save for later (like with your breakfast eggs).
    Also to add flavor to tvp, try Bragg’s liquid amino acids. It’s very salty, so go easy.

  17. I LOVE this chili! Had some TVP in my cupboard, googled “what can I make with TVP?, and there you were! Had a hard time at my local grocer finding the “1 chipotle pepper with 2 Tbsp adobo sauce from the can” – (wasn’t sure if that was two separate ingredients – a chipotle pepper from the produce section, and then some sauce from a tin?) but I did find a chipotle salsa, so I added some of that. Delish! My 4 year old asked for seconds, my vegan brother will approve, and my husband, who doesn’t want to know about substitutions, was very happy! Thanks!

  18. This is the best chili I’ve ever eaten! Thanks so much for the recipe. I added a chopped bell pepper and used a can of red beans instead of one of the cans of black beans. It really is delicious!

  19. ashley o. says:

    This was delicious.

  20. Dorie LaRue says:

    Liquid smoke, maybe?

  21. Marlene Love says:

    I made this tonight! Never used TVP before and loved the blended diced tomatoes with beans idea, nice touch. The chili taste delicious quickly. I adde chili and garlic powder to the water I soaked the TVP in ahead of time. Pretty tasty. 9 out of 10!

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