Friday, March 2, 2012

Megan's Vegetarian/Vegan Chili

I love chili, but I wanted to prove a great chili doesn't need meat. This one starts with a beautiful rainbow of fresh vegetables that flavor the chili with a depth you don't get from a meat base. I also wanted to try to control the amount of salt in the seasonings. If you cannot find salt free, look for low sodium products
This is a hearty chili, and can be tailored to your own family’s tastes.

One medium yellow onion, diced Two carrots peeled and diced
1 yellow and 1 red or green bell pepper, diced Three to six cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 ribs of celery, chopped 4 medium fresh tomatoes, diced and roasted
One 28 oz can salt free diced tomatoes* 2-3 Tbs salt free tomato paste (buy the tube)*
Two small cans salt free tomato sauce* 2 tablespoons oil (grapeseed or olive oil
12 to 16 oz water or low salt veggie broth (or bean cooking water, if you started with dry beans) One cup each, or One 16 oz can each: Black beans, Dark Kidney beans, Pinto beans and Light Kidney beans or Pink beans
Two or three small zucchini, diced


*Kosher salt (has a better taste, and is easier to control than table salt)
*Ground cumin
*Ground chili powder (regular, not ancho)
*Garlic powder
*Onion powder
*Cayenne pepper (just a dash to start)

1) Heat oil in a large soup pot. Add onions, celery, carrots, bell pepper, garlic, and a small amount of kosher salt. Cook until onions are translucent and carrots and peppers are crisp-tender. Keep stirring so that the garlic doesn’t burn, otherwise it will take on a bitter taste.

2) Add all remaining ingredients, including the broth or reserved bean cooking liquid, except the zucchini. (Be sure to drain and rinse the beans if using canned. If you use dried beans, you’ll need to soak them overnight in cold water, then simmer them on the stove for 60-90 minutes before starting the chili – the beans in this recipe all need the same soak and cooking time. Use about 1/3 cup of each dried bean before the soak to equal one cup rehydrated).

3) Begin adding your spices. To start: 1 Tbs each cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika; 1 to 2 tsp KOSHER salt; 1-2 dashes of cayenne. Since you do not have to worry about meat in this recipe, you can sample the flavor of the chili as it cooks down. You may need to add salt or more cayenne depending on your tastes. I like lots of chili powder and cumin in my chili, but 1 to 2 light dashes of the pepper is plenty of spice for an entire pot.

4) When the chili has cooked for about 40 minutes, the flavors should be well developed. Add the zucchini now and stir for about 2-3 minutes. It will soften quickly.

Serve with your choice of toppings: Cheese, red onion, sour cream, chives, corn bread, etc.


consider adding some frozen corn, diced turnip or parsnip, canned green chilis, jalapeño peppers, or other hearty veggies when you are sautéing in the beginning – add lentils at the same time as the spices for more protein; add rehydrated tvp for a meaty texture – use your imagination.

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