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Quarantine Cuisine: Virginia’s Tofu Chili (& How to Cook Tofu)

  • Author: Virginia Vogel


Warm up with a hearty pot of our co-owner’s famous tofu chili: a simple, filling dish anyone can enjoy. And don’t forget to scroll down to the end of this post, where Virginia also teaches us how to make the best tofu.



2 cups dried kidney beans

810 cups cold water

salt, to taste

⅔ cup olive oil, divided, plus a little extra if needed

6 cakes firm tofu, crumbled

¼ cup tamari

2 large yellow onions, chopped coarsely

5 cloves fresh garlic, chopped fine

2 quarts diced tomatoes

2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons cumin powder

2 teaspoons dried oregano

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 teaspoons fennel seeds

3 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and diced

salt and pepper to taste


½ cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Grated cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese


Rinse the kidney beans, and place them in a large soup pot with 8-10 cups cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about two hours until the beans are tender but not mushy. Add salt to taste and set aside. (Do not drain– you’ll need the liquid later.)

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add ⅓ cup olive oil and the crumbled tofu. Cook tofu until crispy and golden brown (this takes 20 or more minutes–the tofu will get a bit rubbery/bouncy in the skillet as the water starts to cook out of it. Usually at this point you will have to add a bit more olive oil to get the tofu to actually start to fry in the pan). When the tofu is done, pour on the tamari to coat and cook it a bit longer to soak up the tamari, about 5 more minutes. Set the tofu aside.

Heat ⅓ cup olive oil in another large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until they start to turn golden brown. Add the chopped garlic and sauté 2- 3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, oregano, paprika, thyme, and fennel seeds. Stir well. Add the beans and bean cooking liquid.

Turn the heat down to low and simmer the chili, partially covered, for approximately one hour, stirring often until chili starts to get thick and rich-looking. (Chili should just be simmering, never boiling). Taste chili and add more spices if you want. Add tofu and continue simmering for another 30 minutes.

Add chopped jalapeños, salt and pepper to taste, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and graded cheddar, Monterey jack or any good melting cheese.


  • Use organic ingredients wherever possible.
  • I use Muir Glen brand diced tomatoes

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