I made chili yesterday. I hadn’t been planning to do it, but we had tomatoes coming out of our ears. Tomatoes in November? You ask. Why on earth would you buy an excess of tomatoes in November? It was a result of our big birthday brunch on Sunday. We bought many, many tomatoes so people could put them on their bagels. I personally find a toasted bagel, spread with cream cheese or avocado, then topped with cucumber and tomato to be divine. Apparently I’m the only one.
After the party, the leftover bagels went into the freezer. The casseroles provided breakfast for a few days. The brownies—well, who ever heard of leftover brownies? (Anyone know what to do with leftover orange juice?)
We had lots of tomatoes. I needed to find a purpose for them, stat. I looked out the window at the blustery day and knew what I had to do.
What chases the chills away on a chilly day better than chili?
I recently asked Facebook friends for recipe suggestions. Ingrid asked for good veggie recipes. Nancy Lee requested soups and stews, and Tom suggested quick and easy vegetarian soup. While I haven’t had time to address many of the ideas, vegetarian chili covers a lot of ground. Check, check and check! If you haven’t liked my Facebook page, please do! And please feel free to make suggestions if there are any recipes that you’d like to see me attempt. I promise to consider all suggestions. Whether or not I will undertake them is yet to be seen. I will no longer joke about haggis.
I like to have a few recipes that I can make with my eyes closed. Well, not literally, since it would be dangerous to chop onions without watching what I’m doing (it’s treacherous enough when I’m wide awake and paying attention…), but you get the picture. Only a few items are necessary for this chili, and I have most of them at home on any given day. In my opinion, the essential ingredients are: onion, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, beans, chili powder, and, of course, cocoa powder.
A while back I didn’t utilize cocoa powder in my vegetarian chili. I don’t remember now where I learned about it—I think it might have been a recipe for mole sauce. I thought I’d add a little cocoa to vegetarian chili and see what it would do, and it improved it considerably. I don’t feel the need to add it to a meaty chili, but it really adds something to the vegetarian version—I’m not sure what it is exactly, but the cocoa gives the chili a rich flavor and makes it more interesting. It also adds a deeper hue, and seems to soften the acidity of the tomatoes.
Chocolate really does make everything better!
There are many different ways to make chili—I make several myself. If you go to a chili cook-off, or host one of your own, you can taste them first-hand. I’ve had chili with meat and without, chili without tomatoes or beans, chili with sweet potatoes, and chili that ran a flaming freight train through my sinuses. There’s no one way to make it, and that opens the door for some great wiggle room. Where there’s wiggle room, there’s creativity in cooking. It’s an opportunity to make a dish your own.
As with all soups, you have options with this recipe. Whether you cook it on the stove or in the slow cooker will depend on how much time you have, and when you have it. Since this is a vegetarian chili, it doesn’t need to be cooked for hours—it only needs to simmer for about 30 minutes on the stove. But if you are pressed for time at mealtime and want to utilize the crock-pot earlier in the day, then by all means, go for it. If you decide to go the slow cooker route, you can take the extra time to sauté the onions, peppers and garlic, or not. It does add a nice flavor, but if you don’t have time, then just pop it all in the crock and turn it on. Easy peasy.
This is one of those recipes that is effortless and can be varied according to your tastes, or by what you have home. Whether you use red or green pepper, spicy chilies, red or black beans—it’s up to you. If you don’t have celery home, skip it. If you only have chicken broth, just use that. If you or a family member is avoiding dairy, then don’t add the cheese and sour cream at the end. Make gluten free pasta if someone can’t eat gluten.
There’s no wrong way to make this recipe. The only trick is to remember what you did so you can make it the same way next time! This recipe doubles easily, and, as with many soups, it improves the second day.
What goes better with a stressful holiday season than a stress-free meal? Start a pot of chili. It will take the chill out of a chilly day and give you much-needed time to chill.
Easy Vegetarian Chili
1 Onion, chopped
1 Red pepper, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1 Carrot, diced
1 Rib celery, diced
2 Large tomatoes, chopped (or one 15-oz. can)
1 Can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Can red beans, drained and rinsed
2 Cups vegetable broth (or one 15-oz. can)
1 Cup frozen corn
1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp. chili powder (or to taste)
pepper, to taste
Diced green or red onions
Pasta (traditional or gluten free)
Super Easy Slow Cooker Method
Put all ingredients into slow cooker crock. Stir. Cook on low for four hours. Serve with add-ons.
Easy Slow Cooker Method
Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in pan. Cook onion, red pepper, garlic, carrots and celery until softened. Place in slow cooker crock with rest of ingredients. Stir. Cook on low for four hours. Serve with add-ons.
Easy Stove Top Method
Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in pot. Cook onion, red pepper, garlic, carrots and celery until softened. Add rest of ingredients to pot. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft. Serve with add-ons.
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