Plant-based Slow Cooker Chilli + Soaking Legumes before Cooking

Meatless Monday made easy with this nourishing and warming slow cooker plant-based chilli dish. Slow cooked meals on cold winters days always hits the spot!! By incorporating a few plant-based/vegan/meatless dishes (or days) each week, you will significantly improve your health, lower your grocery bills and contribute to environmental sustainability. Take the challenge by simply swapping your Monday night dinner for a meatless plant-based meal.

Plant based slow cooker chilli

Soaking Legumes

You need to pre-soak legumes for 12-24 hours before cooking (or alternatively use tinned legumes that are ready to go, and miss this step altogether). Legumes contain anti-nutrients such as phytic acid that can inhibit the absorption of some essential nutrients such as zinc and calcium. They can also be difficult to digest for some people. Soaking helps breakdown anti-nutrients and ensure legumes are more easily digestible. Soaking and cooking times vary depending on the size of the legumes but as a general rule I soak for 24 hours to cover all varieties.

How to soak:

In a large glass jar combine legumes with luke warm water. For every 1 cup of legumes, add 3 cups of water + 1/2 tsp salt. The salt helps activate the process. Leave on the kitchen bench, or preferably a place slightly warm like a window sill (in summer) or on top of a coffee machine. Leave for 24 hours. Drain water (discard this water as it contains all the anti-nutrients and enzymes), then rinse and drain legumes a few times. Now they are ready to be cooked!

Cooking with legumes:

Again cooking times vary depending on the size of the legumes. The longer they cook for the softer and more digestible the legumes become. Don’t use the water you soaked them in to cook the beans, use fresh water. As I am slow cooking in this recipe, I’m not concerned with the cooking time as it will be more than long enough. However, as a general guide, here are the following cooking times for some common legumes:

  • Lentils & small beans (adzuki, mung) – 30 minutes

  • Black beans, cannellini beans, borlotti beans, broad beans, kidney beans – 2.5 hours

  • Navy beans – 3.5 hours

  • Chickpeas, black pinto beans – 4 hours

Plant-based Slow Cooker Chilli

A nourishing and delicious plant-based chilli perfect for cool autumn and winters days, as a main or make ahead for meal prep.

Makes: 6 serves


Prep time:

Cook time:

  • 1 cup lentils (pre-soaked, rinsed & drained)
  • 1 cup mixed legumes – chickpeas, red kidney beans, black turtle beans (pre-soaked, rinsed & drained)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 tins organic whole peeled tomato
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 packed cup kale, chopped
  • 1 tbls chilli flakes
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • salt & pepper, to taste

    Slow Cooker Method
  1. Follow the instructions for soaking legumes first (this step needs to be done 24 hours in advance).
  2. Place all ingredients for the Kale & Legume Chilli in a slow cooker, mix and cover with the lid. Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.

  3. Slow Cooker Method
  4. In a large non-stick pot, sauté onion and garlic in EVOO (olive oil) until softened.
  5. Add all other ingredients into the pot. Bring to the boil, then reduce heat to a slow simmer.
  6. Simmer for 3-4 hours with the lid on.

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