White Bean Tempeh Chili

March 17, 2014 in Main Dishes, Recipes, Soup-Stew, TexMex, World Cuisines by Claire



For several years, my go-to chili recipes has been this black bean chili. I’ve made it so many times, though, that I’ve gotten a little tired of it and I’ve been looking for something different to make.

Texans can be really particular about what goes in our chili. Some Texans won’t even put beans or tomatoes in their chili. Obviously, if you’re making vegetarian chili you have to let yourself choose from a larger list of ingredients, and I’m fine with some vegetables not typically found in chili. Carrots? Bring them on. What I get fussy with is with the spices. I won’t even look twice at a recipe that doesn’t contain both fresh and dried chilies. It’s called chili for a reason, people! I also try to stay away from any forward spices that aren’t usually found in Mexican cooking, such as curry powder, with its sweet, distinctive note of fenugreek seed. If you want to put curry powder in your chili, go for it, but this Texan will just stay over here and admire your boldness from afar.

Years ago, I remember making white chili with chicken and white beans that was quite different from a bowl of “red.” I had that chili in mind when I developed this one.  I briefly thought about using some veggie chicken, but I tried tempeh instead. Tempeh turned out to be terrific with beans; I should have made something with this combination sooner.  Earthy hominy rounds out the flavor, but if you can’t get hominy, a cup and a half of fresh or frozen corn would work in its place. At the end, I was debating stirring some fresh cilantro into the chili, but then I thought about how lovely it would look on top, instead, and it tastes fresher this way. The bowl is even tastier accompanied with some avocado and green onions.

I’m sending this chili to My Legume Love Affair, the long-running blog event created by Susan of The Well-Seasoned Cook and now managed by Lisa of Lisa’s Kitchen. MLLA is being hosted this month by Cinzia of Cindystar.


White Bean Tempeh Chili

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1/2 pound Anaheim peppers, about 3, diced (or 2 poblanos)
  • 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (8-ounce) package tempeh, crumbled
  • 1 (15-ounce) can small white beans, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can Cannellini beans, undrained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can white or yellow hominy, undrained
  • 3/4 pound tomatillos, about 7 medium, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ancho chili powder or other mild chili powder
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons ground coriander seed
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • For the garnish
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1 large Haas avocado, diced
  • 4 green onions, green and white part, sliced


Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté onion and chili peppers until the onion is tender, about 5 minutes. (Be careful not to get any of the spicy steam from the peppers on your face.) Add the garlic and tempeh and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add beans, hominy, tomatillos, and water. Add the mild chili powder, cumin, coriander, chipotle chili powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir well and bring to a low boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes to cook tomatillos. Taste and adjust seasoning. Cook uncovered, stirring frequently, to thicken the chili, if desired, or serve right away.

Divide into 6 bowls and garnish with cilantro, avocado, and sliced green onions. This also freezes well.




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