I developed this Vegan Chickpea Chili during a stressful week. This easy slow cooker recipe was exactly what my family needed. It’s comforting, healthy, nourishing and flavorful. Best of all, it’s completely vegan with all the hardy satisfaction of a meat stew.
What was so stressful about that week, you might ask? Our large hyacinth parrot, Solomon, managed to escape from his flight aviary. His wings are clipped to protect him, but he’s a huge parrot with a very large wingspan and he can glide if he catches a breeze. We live in a mountain range above Los Angeles surrounded by large expanses of wilderness. Long story short, Solomon caught a breeze.
After hours of searching we found him several houses up the road between the yards of two neighbors. He was stuck high in a tree on the side of a mountain, confused and unable to make his way down. We spent hours, tried everything to coax him down. Nothing worked. Even the fire department dropped by; they tried to figure something out, but the tree was too high and too far from the road for their equipment.
Both neighbors on either side were tremendously helpful. They spent several hours of their own time throwing around ideas. Solomon wouldn’t budge. He spent the night in that tree, cold and alone. I couldn’t sleep all night for fear of losing him.
One of the neighbors suggested that we call his tree trimmers, who are experts at climbing those very high, hard-to-reach branches. This morning they came and they climbed. As they got close, Solomon spooked and caught another breeze, gliding far into the canyon below. This canyon is difficult to access and filled with wildlife– bobcats, mountain lions.
Solomon doesn’t know how to feed himself, he’s been raised by humans since he hatched. I thought it was the last we would ever see of him. But these tree climbers didn’t give up. They scaled the canyon walls and located Solomon in a small tree in the center of the canyon. Several minutes and a large net later, they emerged from the brush carrying our beautiful Solomon. He ended the day back in his aviary, munching on bananas and peanuts. What an adventure he had.
What does this all have to do with Slow Cooker Vegan Chickpea Chili? Not a whole lot. And yet, during that crazy week I could only imagine cooking something comforting to soothe our frayed nerves. This delicious vegan chili fit the bill. Chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and spices slowly cook together until their flavors meld. The cashews become tender during cooking, giving the chili a hearty texture.
On a holiday week where many are skipping the turkey in favor of a meatless meal, it would be fitting to serve this Slow Cooker Vegan Chickpea Chili. After all, it was developed with a very special bird in mind! This is clean, healthy, meat-free comfort food. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
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Slow Cooker Chickpea Chili
- 5 1/4 cups cooked chickpeas/garbanzo beans (or 3 cans chickpeas 15 oz. each, drained)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced small
- 2 ribs celery, diced small
- 2 medium onions, diced small
- 2 red bell peppers, seeds and stem removed, diced small
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 1 3/4 cups diced fire-roasted tomatoes (1 can)
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 2 cups raw cashews
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry
- 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 1/2 cups low sodium vegetable stock, or more if needed
- Fresh parsley or cilantro sprigs for garnish
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add carrots, celery, onions, bell pepper and 1 tsp salt. Cook on medium for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften and have nice color. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 additional minutes till fragrant.
- Pour the vegetable mixture evenly to cover the bottom of the slow cooker.
- Return the saucepan to medium heat and add the fire roasted tomatoes and vinegar. Use a spoon/spatula to scrape up any brown bits that remain in the pan. Once the mixture begins to boil, turn off the heat. Continue to scrape up as many of the brown bits as you can. Add the mixture to the slow cooker.
- Add remaining ingredients and spices to the slow cooker (reserve garnish), stir to combine and cover. Cook for 4 hours on high setting.
- After 2 hours, check your moisture level and add more stock if desired. Continue cooking for remaining 2 hours, or until chili is cooked through. Serve warm, garnish with parsley or cilantro if desired.