This chili is packed with umami - that special fifth flavor sense that is best described as extremely savory. It gains that unique depth from three different kinds of mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce (or liquid amino acid for those who are strict vegetarians), tomato paste and a Parmesan rind. All these ingredients combine to make this meatless chili quite meaty-tasting, indeed.
Recipe courtesy of Treva Chadwell
Meaty Meatless Chili
1 hr 5 min
20 min
45 min
8 to 10 servings
1 hr 5 min
20 min
45 min
8 to 10 servings


  • 3 large portobello mushrooms, stems removed and discarded
  • 1 pound cremini or white mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, caps roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce or liquid amino acids
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded and diced
  • 1 green jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and discarded, caps sliced
  • One 28-ounce can whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • One 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 15-ounce red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Parmesan rind (about 2 by 4 inches)
  • Sliced scallions, sour cream, grated cheese and cornbread for serving


Gently scrape off the dark gills on the underside of the portobello caps with a spoon, then roughly chop the caps. Combine the portobello mushrooms, cremini mushrooms, Worcestershire and balsamic vinegar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mushrooms are very finely chopped; work in batches if necessary. Set aside. 

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onions, bell peppers, jalapeno and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 8 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and black pepper and cook, stirring, until the spices are fragrant. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are coated well, about 1 minute. Stir in the finely chopped mushrooms and cook, stirring, until all of the liquid they release has evaporated, about 5 minutes. 

Stir in the shiitake mushrooms, tomatoes, black beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans, Parmesan rind, and 4 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the flavors meld and the mushrooms are tender, about 30 minutes. The chili can be made up to 2 days ahead and reheated. 

Serve the chili with scallions, sour cream, grated cheese and cornbread on the side.

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