This sweet potato walnut chili is so deeply flavourful! We use dried chiles, cocoa, Tamari, onions, garlic, and lots of spices to get the base dialed in. Then, we go in with our finely chopped walnuts, sweet potatoes, and two types of beans. The walnut flavour works so nicely with the nutty cascabel chile and it offers a slightly meaty texture. Big fan! And I always love how sweet potatoes naturally compliment the smokiness of dried chiles.
This is not a quick and easy situation! It has a slow weekend cooking kind of feel to it. The prep and cooking process for this vegan dinner recipe is almost 2 hours total. I really think it’s worth it though! Sometimes I find veggie chili mostly just tastes tomato-y and of tons of dried chile powder (that I may or may not have had in my drawer for too long). Blending whole dried chiles with hot vegetable stock, cocoa, and Tamari gives us a fruity, nutty, smoky umami bomb that really makes a difference. I’ve been using Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes lately, and they are sensational here.
And we also top it with cornmeal dumplings for a bit of extra fun and satiation. I really enjoy corn muffins with chili, but I also love soup dumplings. Combining the two only seemed natural. This chili is really flavourful, satiating, and just great on its own too. It goes well with all of the typical accompaniments like tortilla chips, vegan sour cream, chopped cilantro, and pieces of ripe avocado.
I hope that you give this sweet potato walnut chili a try! It really is a nice way to usher in those cooler nights, or maybe you’re just finding yourself in a chili kinda mood :). If you’re looking for more cozy options, I recommend checking out my collection of vegan soup recipes.
Sweet Potato Walnut Chili with Corn Dumplings
This vegan sweet potato walnut chili is so deeply flavourful on its own, with dried chiles, cocoa, Tamari, garlic, beans, and spices. The cornmeal dumplings on top make it extra hearty and comforting as a vegan main. This is a cozy weekend recipe that takes a bit of extra time, but is so worth it.
Sweet Potato Walnut Chili
- 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
- 1 whole clove
- 2 ½ cups vegetable stock
- 3 dried ancho chiles (see notes)
- 1 dried cascabel chile (see notes)
- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 tablespoon Tamari
- 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, small dice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and diced small (about 3 cups diced sweet potatoes)
- 1 cup walnut halves, super finely chopped
- sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
- 13.5 oz (398 ml) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 13.5 oz (398 ml) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 28 oz (828 ml) can crushed tomatoes
- chopped cilantro or parsley
- ¾ cup light whole wheat OR light spelt flour
- ¼ cup cornmeal
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
- ⅓ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened non-dairy milk
- ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
- Corn dumplings are inspired by the latest issue of Magnolia Journal
- Here’s a nice guide to some more commonly available dried chiles. I wanted a nutty, smoky, slightly fruity flavour with mine, so went with the combo of ancho and cascabel.
- My favourite canned tomatoes these days are by Bianca DiNapoli.
- Make sure your soup pot has a tight fitting lid for the dumpling step!
- This chili is amazing on its own without the dumplings. Just serve it up with all your favourite, typical accompaniments (vegan sour cream, tortilla chips, diced avocado etc).
- If you don’t mind dirtying another dish, you can finely chop up the walnuts in a food processor or mini chopper for faster/easier prep.
- I recommend not making your dumplings too big/thick! Smaller scoops that are spread out a bit (before closing the lid) are ideal for the best texture.
Set a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, and cove to the pot. Toast until very fragrant, about 3 minutes. Transfer the spices to a plate to cool slightly before grinding in a spice grinder. Set aside.
Place the vegetable stock in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. While it’s coming up to a boil, place the dried ancho and cascabel chiles in an upright, vented blender. To the blender, add the cocoa powder and Tamari. Add the hot vegetable stock to the blender. Turn the blender on and slowly bring the speed up to high. Blend this mixture until you have a relatively smooth liquid. Set aside.
Return the large, heavy-bottomed pot to the stove over medium heat. Add the oil to the pot and swirl it around. Add the onions and sauté, stirring often, until very soft and translucent, about 6-8 minutes. If the onions start browning, decrease the heat.
Add the garlic, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, and your previously ground cumin, coriander and clove mixture to the pot. Give it a good stir. Cook this mixture for 1 minute, or until very fragrant. Add the tomato paste and stir. Cook this out for another full minute, just to get that raw “tin”-like flavour out of the tomato paste.
Add the sweet potatoes and walnuts to the pot. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Then, add in the red kidney beans and black beans.
Pour the puréed chile, cocoa, and Tamari mixture into the pot. Stir and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the diced tomato to the pot as well, and stir everything up really well. Set the lid on top, slightly ajar. Bring the chili to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the chili until the sweet potatoes are soft, about 40 minutes. Pop in to stir the chili here and there.
Once you’re closing in on the 40 minute time, check the chili for seasoning. Adjust it if necessary at this point before mixing up and adding the dumplings.
For the dumplings, in a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk, apple cider vinegar, and oil. Let this mixture sit for a couple minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together the light whole wheat flour, cornmeal, salt, pepper, cumin, and baking soda. Add the non-dairy milk mixture to the cornmeal mixture and gently fold it together with a spatula. Do not over-mix! You should have a stiff dough that is similar to scone/biscuit dough in density with a few dry spots. It should be scoop-able!
Take the lid off the chili and, using two spoons, quickly place small dollops (about 1½-2 tablespoons of batter each) of the cornmeal dumpling dough onto the surface of the chili. Spread the dollops out with the back of your spoon a bit to even the thickness. Once you’re done, place the lid on top. Let it simmer and cook the dumplings for 15-18 minutes, or until they’re puffed up, expanded and firm. Resist the urge to lift the lid and take a peek. Once the time is up, take the lid off and finish with the chopped cilantro. Serve chili immediately with dumplings on top.