FINALLY winter came to New York! You may remember from my post a while ago, that I love winter and one main reason is all the hearty soups and stews that go along with it. Well, it's been like Spring the past two months here, just like so many other places in the world. At last, Old Man Winter came a knockin'. And what did I do? Whipped up a pot of my very most delicious vegetarian chili.
The hesitation in the title is a tip of my virtual hat to the fabulous Homesick Texan, a great blogger and personal acquaintance, who vehemently believed that anything with beans is not "chili". To Texans, that has a very significant meaning and the rest of us who taint it with other stuff are committing some form of sacrilege. Well, I saw the great Homesick Texan in person this week and she has smudged the lines a bit to make way for the rest of us and after getting her official permission I feel I can now continue calling it my "Scrumptious Vegetarian Chili".
No meat, no slurry, no pasta for you Cincinnati kids. Sorry, purists, but this is all I have ever called it and it's my very own, nothing regional about it. If you all would like to participate in renaming my dish to something other than vegetarian chili, I'm all for it. Put your name for my stew in the comments and I'll send the best enry a little gift of some kind. I promise.
I like my chili hot. Damn hot. Especially in the cold winter. Which it wasn't until this week, when it finally hit below 20˚Farenheit. So, this recipe carries a decent level of incindiary properties. If you don't like it spicy, cut back at least half on the chile and peppers. If you like it mild,
make minestrone cut back even more. You can substitute dried beans for the canned ones here. It's been my method for years due to ease and fun, but you can go either route. I like my chili thick and hearty, so unless you're cooking the chili all day in a crock pot, the dried beans take too long to break down. Not feasible on a weeknight for me.
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium spanish onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 small or 1 medium fresh carrots, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
4 oz. cremini mushrooms, chopped
2 oz. 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. red chile pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 chipotle chiles en adobo
28 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
19 oz. can black beans
19 oz. can dark red kidney beans
15 oz. white navy or cannelini beans
1 1/2 T. dark brown molasses sugar
1/2 c. water
1. Chop all the vegetables and measure out all the dry ingredients. Open all the cans. Dump all the canned beans in a colander and rinse well. You don't want to retain any syrup in the beans.
2. Heat a large heavy bottomed pot, preferably enameled cast iron, on medium heat and add the olive oil.
3. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion, garlic and carrot and saute for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent and the garlic is golden but not dark brown. Lower the heat to medium.
4. Begin adding each of the ingredients, tasting and layering the flavors as you go. Add the jalapeno pepper, cremini mushrooms and stir to incorporate. Add the bittersweet chocolate and stir until it's fully melted and incorporated. Add the kosher salt, black pepper, red chili pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne pepper, bay leaves, chili powder, chipotle chiles and stir. Add the dark brown molasses sugar. Add the can of diced tomatoes and stir. Add all the rinsed beans.
5. Add the water. Raise the flame to medium-high and stir well. Bring the soup up to a gentle boil.
6. Reduce the heat to low, replace the heavy lid on your pot and simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour. This is what turns it from soup to a thick and hearty stew. Be patient, wait for it to get thick and taste every 15 minutes so you can adjust if necessary. If you find it's going too hot, add a little bit of sugar.
7. Take two capsules of Beano. TRUST ME. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE NEAR OTHER PEOPLE FOR THE NEXT 12 HOURS.
Serve the chili in a hearty bowl and garnish with sour cream. This helps cut the heat a little too, besides being delicious. We love to eat our chili with cornbread slathered with honey. When I was 11 years old, I began making corn bread from the famous red and white Betty Crocker cookbook. But since I was a kid, I liked the fun of pouring it in muffin pans. I'm still a kid at heart and that's how I make it to this day; some things are just timeless. Here's the recipe. This chili gets better after a few days in the refrigerator and will be even hotter when you reheat.