Move over meat, my Crock Pot Award Winning Vegetarian Chili will knock your socks off!
This is the first recipe I ever posted on Running in a Skirt and it is hands down my most famous, most loved family recipe. I have made my Crock Pot Award Winning Chili for years… ever since I WON a chili cook-off with it against some of my friends at the TV station. And all the other competitors were meat based chili.
The Hubs even says he prefers Award Winning Vegetarian Chili to regular chili! Now if those two things aren’t a vote of confidence, I don’t know what is.
On a side note, this chili can also easily be vegan. The toppings shown here are dairy based, but the entire recipe is vegan and dairy-free.
So before we get to the details of the chili, let me take you back to the night I won that cook-off. At that time, the chili didn’t exactly look like this (although it tasted the same!)
I only have a few, small and sad pictures because it was circa 2008… but hopefully you will get the idea.
To set the scene, first you have to understand how a bunch of 20-somethings who work in TV plan a party. It often turned into much more than a casual get together. It was usually quite a production. Imagine produced videos projected on large screens, hundreds of people, decorations and even possibly a PA system.
And these overboard, themed parties had a history of involving food competitions There were rib contests, pork cook-offs (hence the pig balloon) and beer brewing tastings.
The Chili Cook-off of 2008 will always be my favorite. It’s the only time I ever entered and believe it or not, I actually won.
I wasn’t planning on cooking for the the contest because at that time, I was not much of a chef. This was when I still burned water frankly.
I found out there were about a half dozen entries, but none of them were vegetarian. I opened my big mouth to the organizers and asked about representation and food for the “meat-free” crowd. Next thing you know my name is on the list to cook. Yikes! Sometimes I talk too much.
I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. My competition all had tried and true recipes that they had made for years. I was fighting an uphill battle when all the other stews had beef, pork or chicken in them. I browsed the internet for recipes and decided to combine the best aspects of several I had found. I then recruited my girlfriends to put together a GIANT batch. It was a turkey fryer size pot. Ridiculous!
Since I didn’t have this amazing recipe that I knew everyone would love, I decided I needed a little publicity. How was a vegetarian chili going to beat my friend’s well-loved, meat-filled recipes? So I launched a full fledged campaign for my chili with stickers and flyers. I got a little carried away. And… I may have brought some adult beverages to compliment my chili.
I even covered the competition, Eric, with my propaganda.
Even though I focused a bunch of time on my gimmicks, the actual chili I made turned out really, really good. I served bowl and after bowl of it. It was a crowd hit!
At the end of the night everyone who was there stood in a line in front of their favorite chili to vote for a winner. Then, the chili with the lowest number of votes was eliminated. Those people could move to their second favorite chili. It came down to my chili and my good friend and photographer Eric’s chili. It was so close, but when the final count was done, I won by just a couple votes. I don’t eat meat, so I didn’t try Eric’s chili. But I knew it was awesome and everyone also loved it. He poured his heart and soul into that pot. He was the one who organized the crazy event and he had initially pulled me into making the vegetarian chili to begin with. I threw my recipe together. So, I actually felt a little bad about the victory. Just a little. Maybe the stickers were a little over the top?
There was no prize; just bragging rights. But that was more than enough and it still ranks as one of my favorite nights ever.
Over the years, I recreated the chili to be cooked in a Crock Pot. It’s changed and adapted a little over time, but it is truly become one of my go-to recipes that I can call all mine. We’ve come a long way since those days, my friends. 🙂
Here are some of the secrets that I think really makes my Award Winning Vegetarian Chili good….
1- It has lots of different bean types. The variety makes it more interesting to look at AND taste.
2- It has color. The different peppers and beans make it a pretty dish.
3- It does NOT have “fake meat.” I like tofu but so many people are turned off with the possibility of “fake meat” that they will not even try it. This chili is packed with so many ingredients, you will not even miss it. You also have plenty of protein from the beans.
4- Chipotle Cholula. Need I say more?
So here we go, my recipe Award Winning Vegetarian Chili! I really hope you will try it and enjoy it.
A handy, dandy printable is on the next page!