TVP Chili


Once again I must confess to having originally used a GIS picture, but this one is really mine. Many times when I’m documenting a recipe, I forget to take the picture, and I have to find something on the internet that looks “pretty darn close”. Honestly, I think my own actually looks better.

All I want is a simple and straight forward chili, and I subscribe to the old adage, “If your next pot of chili tastes better, it probably is because of something you left out rather than added.” This is what I had in mind when creating my TVP chili recipe.

So what exactly is TVP? According to Wikipedia, textured or texturized vegetable protein (TVP), also known as textured soy protein (TSP), soy meat, or soya chunks is a defatted soy flour product, a by-product of extracting soybean oil. It is often used as a meat analogue or meat extender…

…or in this recipe, a meat replacement.

Why replace the meat? Because it’s essentially not necessary.

I don’t mean not necessary in the “meat is murder” and “we should all adopt a vegan based diet” bullshit diatribe. Look, I love hamburgers as much as the next overweight red blooded American. Heck, throw some bacon on that and give me a side of buffalo wings! I love to eat those tasty animals, but I’m incredibly cheap and strapped for cash, therefore, when I can get what is essentially the same taste and texture for less, I don’t pass up that opportunity.

So when I say the meat is not necessary, I mean that you can throw TVP into the chili in place of the hamburger, and no one who didn’t already know, would know the difference. In the end, you can save almost half the cost because bulk TVP at your local health food store is really that cheap.

Another reason I like to use TVP to make chili is because all the ingredients are shelf stable. Except for the onion, all the ingredients could sit in your cabinet for a year or more. Hamburger has to be kept frozen if you want to keep it on hand for more than a few days. This way you can make the chili on your terms when you want it, and you won’t have to make a special trip to the store or wait an hour while the beef thaws.

Now most chili recipes are various spices such as cumin, peppers, beans, onions, some tomato-y liquid, and of course the meat which is usually ground beef. Naturally it’s not always that simple, but this is the basic gist of chili, and we’re going to be doing something pretty similar. I just don’t want to use peppers because fresh peppers don’t keep as well as other fresh veggies such as potatoes and onions. Besides, we’ve got plenty of chili powder, so trust me; it’s going to be great!

Let’s look at the ingredients:

  • 1 can of Kidney Beans (light red, dark red, it’s up to you!)
  • 1 can of Diced Tomatoes
  • 1 can of Tomato Paste
  • 2 cups of Diced Onion
  • 1 cup of Texture Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • 2 Tbsp Chili Powder1
  • 1 Tbsp Cumin1
  • ½ Tbsp Garlic Powder1
  • ½ Tbsp Salt (plus a little more to taste)
  • 2½ cups Water
  • 2 Tbsp cooking Oil

1Just so you know… I’m using the generic store brand  cumin, chili, and garlic powders. All the seasoning measurements are really just approximate… Adjust yours to your particular taste because not all chili powders are the same!

You could just dump it all into a large pot at once, stir it up, and simmer it for an hour or so. In that event, leave out the oil. I prefer to saute the onion and dry TVP in a large pan with the oil first; just until the onion starts to mellow, and the TVP begins to brown. Everything else does get unceremoniously dumped into the chili pot and is waiting on the TVP and onion. Once everything is in the pot, stir and simmer it for as long as you like. I’d give it at least 20 to 30 minutes, but even an hour wouldn’t hurt.

So if you followed the directions, you’ll have a bowl of chili that will taste as good as Wendy’s… or probably better.

Oh yeah… If you can’t find it in your local health food store, you can also use 1½ lbs of drained browned ground beef in place of the TVP and decrease the water by about 1 cup. No one would notice the difference unless somebody told them it wasn’t really TVP.



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