Vegetarian Chili with Cilantro-Lime Cashew Sour Cream

On Tuesday morning I was feeling particularly stressed out about all of the things I needed to accomplish this week. It’s been such a long week. I’m still behind on some freelance projects I’ve got going on. In the midst of all of this work stuff, I managed to completely forgot it was my son’s special week at school. This was the special week where his class would celebrate his birthday because it’s in the summer when school is out. My sweet little boy was talking all about his birthday treat and what he wanted for his birthday. I blew it off because what kid isn’t incessantly talking about their birthday?

Then it hit me last night and searched the house from top to bottom to find the note that came home a few weeks ago. I couldn’t for the life of me remember what I was supposed to do or send. I needed to pull something together for today so he didn’t feel like a complete loser because I forgot. Gah. I still feel terrible for forgetting. To make up for it, I bought extra special treats for his class. Before school this morning, I whipped out a poster with pictures of him through the years. He’s so forgiving and proudly took it with him to show his class.

It was then that my husband asked his teacher about the note. The note? The one I’d looked all over the house to find? I’d signed it and sent it back to school with my son. So yeah, it’s been one of those weeks. Sigh.

This morning I taught a cooking class with Clinton from La Nay Ferme. Even though I wasn’t completely on my game, it was nice to do what I do best–make salad. Some people do crazy things when they’re stressed–like cleaning. And those people should come to my house when they’re stressed because I cook and eat when I’m stressed and I really could use some help with the dishes. Ha!

So back to Tuesday and welcome to what it’s like to be my brain–so many tangents!  I was cleaning out my fridge.  I felt guilty tossing the last three pickled beets (FROM LAST SUMMER) and a few other things that were unidentifiable.  I hate to waste food.  I pulled out the little bits of what I had in the fridge left over from the recipes of the last week.  And I decided to make soup.  Or salad.  Or soup.  I couldn’t quite decide.  Then I remembered I had a bunch of black beans in the freezer and I started craving chili.  Chili is one of those things you can add just about anything to and with enough chili powder and cumin it will taste good.  I’d like to this this chili would be good anyway.  It’s loaded with healthy veggies.  And it disappeared a lot more quickly than those pickled beets.

I instagrammed a picture of my chili simmering away and said I couldn’t quite decide if I wanted cornbread or a baked potato.  The consensus was that I should ALWAYS have cornbread with chili.  So that’s what I did.

My favorite cornbread recipe is one I have adapted from American Classics by the editors of Cooks’ Illustrated Magazine.

Now let’s talk about that Cashew Sour Cream on top.  YUMMY.  I don’t say that lightly!  It really is good and if you’re off dairy or feel adventurous and want to try something new, Cashew Sour Cream is pretty fantastic.

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Vegetarian Chili with Cilantro-Lime Cashew Sour Cream

Healthy, hearty chili loaded with veggies and beans, topped with a creamy, vegan cilantro-lime cashew sour cream.

  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: 4-6 1x


Units Scale
  • For chili:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 Tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 small can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
  • 1/2 lb. sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 23 cups cooked black beans
  • 56 kale leaves, stems removed, roughly chopped
  • For cashew sour cream:
  • 1 1/2 cups raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/4 cup ore more fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)


  1. For chili: In a large 4-5 quart pan, heat the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the onion, red pepper, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5-10 minutes until the vegetables start to soften. Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the chili powder and cumin. Cook, stirring constantly, to gently toast the spices. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced green chiles and sweet potato. Bring to a low simmer. (Add a little water if it’s too thick.) Cook until the sweet potato is tender, 20-30 minutes. Add the chopped kale and cook for an additional five minutes. Serve warm.
  2. For cashew sour cream: Blend cashews, lime juice, 1/2 cup water and a little salt in a blender or food processor gradually moving from low to high speed. While the machine is running, add a little more water as needed until you have reached a consistency that is like whipped cream.
  3. Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. (I actually kept mine longer and it was still great.) Just before serving, stir in the cilantro and cumin. Yield: 1 cup


cashew sour cream recipe slightly adapted from The Vegan Table

  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 20 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Category: soup, main
  • Cuisine: American


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