I’ve made plenty of chilis in my day that start with whole dried peppers, but this version — like so many others — depends on ground and flaked versions for quickness and ease. Author Isa Chandra Moskowitz uses an appropriately heavy hand with those spices and others, giving this thick, hearty stew a backbone of strong flavors. Protein comes from beans (naturally), and she throws in pearled barley for more nutrition and texture. For depth and tang: lime juice and a little beer! The result is something you’ll want in your repertoire of cold-weather comforts. If a bowl of this doesn’t warm you up, nothing will.
Storage Notes: The chili can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 3 months.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 3 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, or more as needed
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 cup light-colored Mexican beer, such as Tecate or Modelo
- 3 cups no-salt-added or homemade vegetable broth (see related recipe)
- 3/4 cup pearled barley
- One (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- One (25-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or 2 1/2 cups cooked kidney beans
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar (optional)
In a 4-quart pot over medium-high heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Stir in the green peppers, onion, bay leaves and ½ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the chili powder, cumin, oregano, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, to toast the spices, about 1 minute.
Pour in the beer and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Cook for about 2 minutes, then stir in the vegetable broth and barley. Partially cover the pot, leaving the lid slightly ajar to let steam escape, and bring the chili to a gentle boil, reducing the heat if necessary to keep it from boiling too vigorously. Boil until the barley is almost tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and beans. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot again with the lid slightly ajar. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the barley is tender and the chili is thick, 20 to 30 minutes. Add a little water, if necessary, to thin out the chili to your liking.
Stir in the lime juice and agave, if using, then taste and season with more salt, if needed. Remove the bay leaves, if you can find them. Serve hot, with your choice of accompaniments.
Adapted from “I Can Cook Vegan,” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Abrams, 2019).
Correction: A previous version of this article included incorrect instructions for increasing and reducing the heat in order to bring or return the mixture to a boil. This version has been corrected.
Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Calories: 200; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 520 mg; Carbohydrates: 33 g; Dietary Fiber: 9 g; Sugars: 7 g; Protein: 7 g.