Faster, Flavorful Vegan Chili
Sometimes I want chili in a hurry. Usually, I have a stash of slowed-cooked vegan chili in my freezer. But sometimes it’s all gone. That’s when I count on my Instant Pot.
The Fastest Quick-Soak
Especially with pressure cooking, beans hold their shape better when soaked first.
My body agrees with the advice of The Bean Institute that hot soaking reduces the gas-producing complex starches. Soaking in cold water takes 8 hours or longer and has minimal effect on emissions.
The Instant Pot is the fastest way to quick-soak beans.
Simply, pressure cook for 1 minute, then let the pressure release naturally for 15 minutes. Altogether, it takes a total of about 30 minutes, including the time it takes to come up to pressure.
That’s less than half the time of the stovetop quick soak. No more waiting for the water to boil and then letting it stand for 1 hour.
Quick Soaking in Brine
I also like to soak the beans in brine which helps the beans rehydrate more evenly and helps the beans stay intact. That’s a trick that I learned from Cook’s Illustrated. I don’t use as much water or salt as they do, but I still find it works well.
You may have heard that salt keeps the beans from becoming soft. That’s not true. Beans cooked with salt end up soft, more flavorful, and more intact.
I start off with covering the beans with about an inch of water, adding salt, and then pressure cook for 1 minute. After a 15-minute natural release, the beans are hydrated enough to be cooked. Then it’s time to rinse the water and salt off and add fresh water.
Adding Water without Measuring
I don’t measure the water anymore. That’s a revolutionary concept for someone as recipe-dependent as me!
I now use my finger to estimate how much water.
Up to the first knuckle = 1 inch. That’s how I measure the soaking water.
Half-way to the first knuckle = 1/2 inch. That’s how I measure the cooking water. It’s not very scientific. But it works and it’s faster!
Pressure Cooking with Acidic Ingredients
Beans cooked with acidic ingredients like tomato sauce take longer to cook than plain beans, about two to three times longer. But the amount of flavor that’s infused into the beans is well worth 25 minutes of pressure cooker time. This Instant Pot vegan chili also develops a mild, reddish-brown sauce that makes the chili delectable by itself or eaten in a variety of ways.
How to Turn One Pot of Chili into 10 Dinners:
Here are ten ideas for making a meal out of Instant Pot Vegan Chili:
- Beans and Rice: Serve chili over rice. Top with chopped green onions and tomatoes and a dollop of Vegan Mayonnaise Serve with a green salad.
- Burrito Bowl: Place chili, quinoa, and roasted vegetables in a bowl. Top with salsa and Versatile Avocado Dressing (Crema).
- Loaded Baked Potato: Serve chili over a baked potato. Top with steamed broccoli. Top with Thick and Creamy Dressing. Sprinkle with chives or sliced green onions. Serve with coleslaw or a green salad.
- Beans and Corn Tortillas: Serve a bowl of chili with warm corn tortillas, cooked kale, and a green salad.
- Soft Tacos: Drain chili and mash. Season with taco seasoning if desired and use to fill warm corn tortillas. Top with shredded cabbage and lettuce, chopped tomatoes and onions, guacamole, salsa, and Creamy Cumin-Lime Dressing.
- Bean Burritos: Drain chili and mash. Serve in flour tortillas with onions, guacamole, salsa, and Thick and Creamy Dressing. Serve with raw vegetables.
- Enchilada Casserole. Drain chili and mash half of the beans. Layer with enchilada sauce and corn tortillas in a casserole dish or slow cooker. Bake or cook until heated through. Serve with Mexican rice and a salad.
- Haystacks or Layered Taco Salad: Serve chili on a bed of crushed tortilla chips. Top with chopped lettuce, tomato, onion, olives, guacamole, salsa, and Creamy Cumin-Lime Dressing.
- Veggie Power Bowl: Cut open a baked sweet potato and place it in the bottom of a bowl. Top with chili. Top with Vegan Mayonnaise or vegan sour cream, baby spinach, chopped cilantro, and toasted pumpkin seeds.
- Chili and Cornbread: Serve chili in bowls. Top with vegan sour cream and sliced green onions. Serve with cornbread, vegan butter and honey, and cabbage slaw.
Easy Vegan Chili
- 2½ cups 1 pound dried pinto beans, sorted and rinsed
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (about ¾ cup)
- 1½ tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1½ teaspoons coriander
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- Place beans in a 6-8-quart pressure cooker. Add salt. Add water to cover the beans by 1 inch. Lock the lid in place. Pressure cook for 1 minute. Let the pressure drop naturally for 15 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure. Drain and rinse.
- Return beans to the pressure cooker. Add water to cover the beans by ½-inch. Stir in the tomato sauce and seasonings. Lock the lid in place and pressure cook for 25 minutes. Let the pressure drop naturally for 15 minutes. Quick-release any remaining pressure. Makes 8 (1-cup) servings.
- Adding salt during soaking improves the texture of the beans and helps them stay intact during pressure cooking. The beans don’t absorb much of the salt.
- Beans cook most evenly if soaked first. Especially pressure-cooked beans.
- Hot soaking also reduces the gas-producing complex starches.
- Cook beans in bulk. After cooling, freeze in meal-size portions up to six months.