Rich, creamy and bursting with flavor! This hearty white chili is made with hearty beans, silky coconut milk, and soy curls. A delicious and protein-packed meal that you’d never guess was vegan!
When I was a kid, chili was one of my least favorite foods. I guess that’s understandable. Regular old tomato chili can be pretty intense with all the spices and tomatoes. White chili was what changed my mind about chili. One bite and I was in love.
What is White Chili?
White chili lacks a couple of the elements of conventional chili — namely the tomatoes and chili powder. It’s made with white beans and seasoned with a generous amount of cumin, and sometimes a few other spices.
Conventional white chili is also usually made with chicken and some type of dairy, such as heavy cream, to make it rich and creamy.
Veganizing White Chili
Instead of using heavy cream, my white chili contains coconut milk. Doesn’t that make the chili taste like coconut? Nope! The spices and lime juice disguise the flavor pretty well — I couldn’t taste the coconut at all!
And instead of chicken, this white chili is made with soy curls. If soy curls are new to you, check out this post to get the lowdown on what they are and how to use them.
If you’re not into soy curls, feel free to leave them out — your chili will still be delicious!
How to Make Meatless White Chili
The Soy Curls
First you’ll need to soak your soy curls in some broth. They’ll need about 10 minutes to soften up. Chop them up roughly when they’re done. Tip: hang on to the soaking broth and add it to the chili later!
Now you need to brown the soy curls, and you’ve got 2 options:
- Option 1: Save time by browning the soy curls while the chili simmers. If you’re going to do this, skip ahead, start your chili, and come back to here when you’ve got it simmering.
- Option 2: Save dirty dishes by browning the soy curls first in a large pot, setting them aside, and then cooking the chili in the same pot.
In any event, to brown your soy curls you’ll need to heat up some oil in a pot or skillet, add the soy curls, and cook them for about 10 minutes. Flip them every few minutes to get them browned all over. Transfer them to a plate when they’re done.
Now we’ll talk about how to make the chili. Start by heating up some oil in a large pot. When the oil is hot, add an onion and cook it for a few minutes to soften it up.
Next, add some garlic and spices: cumin, ancho chile powder, and oregano. Toast the garlic and spices for about a minute, until the mixture becomes very fragrant.
Next, stir in some white beans. What kind of white beans? Any kind! Cannellini, great northern, and navy beans all work with this recipe, and I used a can of each. You’ll also want to add a can of green chiles, some coconut milk, and beer (or broth or water if you prefer).
Bring the mixture up to a simmer and let it cook for about 20 minutes. It will thicken up quite a bit while cooking — just stir in some water or broth when needed (this is where that reserved broth from the soy curls comes in handy).
Now stir in the soy curls and let the chili simmer for about 5 minutes more.
Finally, take your chili off of the stove and season it with some lime juice, salt, and pepper.
Grab a bowl and enjoy!
Vegan White Chili Tips & FAQ
- Is there a substitute for the beer? Feel free to substitute broth or water if you prefer.
- If you do use the beer, check with barnivore to ensure the brand you choose is vegan.
- What are soy curls and where can I get them? Soy curls are a meat substitute made from (surprise!) soy. I talk a bit more about them in this post. I haven’t been able to find them in stores yet, so I buy them online.
- Can I make this chili with dried beans? Yes, but you’ll need to soak and fully cook them first. Try this method. You’ll need about 5 1/2 cups of cooked beans for this recipe.
- Can this chili be made gluten-free? Yup! Just use a gluten-free beer, or substitute water or vegetable broth.
- Is this chili spicy? Not very. The ancho chile powder add a slight amount of heat, but you can leave it out if you’re concerned.
- Does this chili taste like coconut milk? Not to me or my husband. The other flavors mask it pretty well. But if you absolutely hate the taste of coconut, you might be best substituting another non-dairy milk. Use something unsweetened and preferably with some fat in it, like soy milk.
Creamy Vegan White Chili
Rich, creamy and bursting with flavor! This hearty white chili is made with hearty beans, silky coconut milk, and soy curls. A delicious and protein-packed meal that you'd never guess was vegan!
- 3 cups Butler soy curls
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 (14 ounce or 400 gram) cans white beans (cannellini, navy and/or great northern), drained and rinsed
- 1 cup ale (light or medium brown ale preferred)
- 1 cup full-fat coconut milk
- 1 (4.5 ounce or 127 gram) can green chiles
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Soak the soy curls by placing them into a medium bowl with the broth. Let them while you begin preparing the chili.
Coat the bottom of a large pot with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the onion. Allow it to cook for about 5 minutes, until soft and translucent.
Add the garlic, cumin, ancho chile powder, and oregano. Cook everything for about 1 minute, until very fragrant.
Stir in the beans, coconut milk, and beer. Drain the soy curls and reserve the broth. Add 1 cup of the broth to the chili and hang on to the rest.
Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat and allow it to simmer for about 20 minutes. Add more of the reserved broth if the mixture thickens up too much while cooking.
While the chili simmers, roughly chop the soy curls.
Coat the bottom of a medium skillet with the remaining tablespoon of oil and place it over medium heat.
When the oil is hot, add the soy curls in an even layer.
Cook the soy curls for about 10 minutes, flipping them once or twice, until they've got plenty of browned spots.
When the chili has finished simmering, stir in the soy curls and let it simmer for 5 minutes more.
Remove the pot from the burner and stir in the lime juice. Season the chili with salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls, top with toppings of choice, and serve.