This vegan sweet potato chili makes good use of winter vegetables like kale and mushrooms for a tasty and filling stew. Nothing fancy, just stick to your ribs cold weather food.
March still means winter vegetables in my part of the world. Over-wintered kale and root vegetables, purple sprouting broccoli, and, if you’re lucky, some hardier herbs like parsley.
Even though we’re seeing hints of spring in the crocuses and first shoots of wild garlic, it’ll be a little while longer before true spring produce starts to arrive. This sweet potato chili is flexible depending on what you have as well as being an excellent hungry gap meal.
I did manage to make a batch of spelt biscuits in my toaster oven to have as a side here, which was nice! There’s no real temperature control so proper recipe development can’t be done with it, but it is nice to have something (anything) that’s been baked.
Scroll to the bottom of the post or click “skip to recipe” above to see the recipe card with full ingredient measurements and instructions.
- Mushrooms: plain button. Always sear the mushrooms first to get the best meaty texture and avoid chewiness.
- Onion and Garlic: red or white onion, it doesn’t matter.
- Sweet Potato: a little more or less will be fine here – about one medium sweet potato will work.
- Spices: cumin, (smoked) paprika, hot pepper flakes, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and salt.
- Tomatoes: canned diced tomatoes are best. Fresh work in summer, too, in an equal amount.
- Black Beans: rinsed very well, especially if canned.
- Corn: I always go for frozen corn rather than canned, it’s usually much sweeter and keeps a better texture.
- Kale: lacinato kale for the chili pictured, but it doesn’t really matter.
- Top with pickled onions, avocado, lime, and herbs.
Tips and Notes
Top with anything you like. I love the acidity of pickled onions with a bit of freshness from chives and avocado, but you could also add cheese (vegan or not), sour cream, or yogurt. A dollop of avocado aioli would be great.
Make sure to adjust the level of spice based on your personal preference. I don’t consider black pepper to be spicy and like quite a bit of heat, but sometimes readers find a half teaspoon of black pepper to be overwhelmingly hot. If different people in your household need different levels here, leave it out and top your dish with hot pepper flakes.
The chili keeps well for a couple of days without the toppings and reheats well. It’s pretty good from frozen, though the sweet potato in particular will soften slightly after being in the freezer.
If you have a half-drunk bottle of red wine sitting around, switch out half the water or vegetable broth for wine. Add it before the tomatoes go in, and simmer for a couple of minutes. Wine adds a bit of extra richness which, while not really necessary, is very nice.
Use pumpkin or carrots as an easy sub for the sweet potato. Pumpkin is great but we have usually run out by this time of year.
Switch out the kale for chard, spinach, rucola, or other greens, depending on what you have on hand. Kidney beans are a good substitution for black beans.
A chili spice blend can be used in place of the spices listed if you’d rather. Smoked paprika adds a delicious smokey note, but sweet paprika can be used instead.
If you’re making this in summer or early autumn, try adding some red pepper, zucchini, or eggplant. As long as you keep the base ingredients (spices, mushrooms, tomatoes) the same, there is a lot of room for flexibility.
More Warming Stews and Curries
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 250 grams (2 cups) mushrooms, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 300 grams (~1 medium) sweet potato, cut into roughly 3cm (1 in.) pieces
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (to taste)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (to taste)
- 400 grams (14 oz.) canned diced tomatoes
- 300 grams (2 cups) cooked or canned black beans, drained and rinsed
- 300 grams (2 cups) frozen corn
- 125 ml (1/2 cup) water or vegetable broth
- 50 grams (2 cups) kale, de-stemmed and roughly chopped
- Avocado, pickled onions, and chives for topping
- Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, add the olive oil and the mushrooms. Sauté for five minutes, avoiding stirring, to sear the mushrooms* and reduce the water content.
- Add the onion and cook for another 2-3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant.
- Add the sweet potato and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, followed by the salt, cumin, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika, and pepper flakes. Cook another 30 seconds, until fragrant.
- Pour the tomatoes into the pot and stir to combine. This will lift any spices that may be sticking to the base.
- Add the black beans, corn, and water or broth. Increase the heat to bring the chili to a low bowl, then reduce and simmer, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
- After simmering, the sweet potato should be fork-tender. Remove the chili from the heat and stir in the kale.
- Serve hot, topped with avocado, pickled onions, and herbs, or other toppings as you like.
- Leftovers will keep for 2-3 days, refrigerated in a sealed container, and can be frozen for up to a month.
* If the mushrooms contain a lot of water, you may need to increase the heat temporarily to help it evaporate quickly.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 849mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 15gSugar: 13gProtein: 14g
This data is provided by a calculator and is a rough estimation of the nutritional information in this recipe.
This post was first published in December 2017. It has been updated most recently as of March 2021.