Saturday, November 1, 2014

Simple Vegetarian Chili

November. It's undeniably fall, and the weather has turned decidedly chilly. Suddenly, my summer soup hiatus has vanished and nothing sounds better than a thick, hearty stew.

While it seems that most people know how to make chili, following recipes found on the internet often yields mixed results. Many of the recipes are awash with time consuming, complicated steps or have dozens of ingredients. Granted, some of those recipes likely result in an amazing chili, but how often do you have time for hours of preparation?

Simple Vegetarian Chili

The recipe below is a pared down, healthy chili that is quick, cheap and easy to make. If you make it exactly as is, the 1-1/2 gallon recipe (16 servings) will cost $19 (or $1.19/serving). However, using dry beans saves you at least $3 and you save another $4 if you leave out the crimini mushrooms ($2 if you substitute white button mushrooms). That brings this down to a total of $12 (or $0.75/serving).

A note on chili powder: like most of my spices, I get this at Penzey's . The last batch I made was with their medium chili powder, but it was quite spicy (and I love spicy food), so you may want to go with a mild chili powder and serve some sliced jalapeƱos on the side for those who want to spice it up.

Serving and cooking notes: 

  • The chili pictured above is served with avocado and cilantro. 
  • I also like to top with a few corn chips to add some crunch or serve with a piece of cornbread. 
  • This is a very chunky chili. If you prefer a less chunky chili, cut the squash, onions, mushrooms and peppers smaller. This will also take less time to cook. 
  • If you are in a hurry, you can dump all of the ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. This way you have instant, hot dinner when you get home in the evening.
  • You can prepare chili in advance. It tastes better the next day and keeps in the refrigerator for a week. 
  • Portion into individual serving containers that are microwavable for a quick lunch or into family-sized containers for a heat-and-eat dinner.

Simple Vegetarian Chili

¼ cup olive oil
1-1/2 large yellow onions, diced in 1-inch cubes
2 green bell peppers, diced in 1-inch cubes
4-6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 pounds butternut squash or sweet potatoes, diced in 1-inch cubes
8 ounce package crimini mushrooms, diced in 1-inch cubes
4 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-28 ounce can tomato puree
1-28 ounce can diced tomatoes
3 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans small red beans, drained and rinsed
½-1 can filled with water
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. Heat olive oil in a 2 gallon pot over medium high heat. Add onions, peppers and garlic, cook covered, stirring regularly for 3 minutes.

2. Add squash and mushrooms and season with ½ teaspoon of salt (if using) and freshly ground black pepper. Cover pot and cook, stirring regularly, for 5 minutes.

3. Add chili powder and cumin. Stir to coat vegetables. Add both cans of tomatoes, all of the beans and enough water to make chili the thickness you like.

4. Stirring frequently, bring chili to a simmer over medium heat. Then, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until squash is fork tender.

5. Serve.

Makes 1-1/2 gallons (16 1.5 cups servings)


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  2. Making this Chili today. Luckily I had everything already on hand

  3. The Chili was delicious. Made the house smell good, was quick to make, and was welcomed on a the approach of winter weather here.


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