How To Make Hearty Veggie Chili with Cheese

There are tastes that seem to spark the official change of season in our minds.  The bite of a fresh juicy strawberry in summer, the warmth of hot apple cider in the fall and for me, it’s the return of  hearty chili in the winter that propels me to pull out the toboggans, cozy socks and well, phone my dad. 

Growing up, I remember sitting side by side with him on cold Saturdays eating bowl after bowl of spicy chili and cheese cheering on the Michigan Wolverines. I was his lanky, curly-headed championship chili eating sidekick and to this day it still makes me smile when he calls to say he’s putting on the first pot of the year.

Lucky for me I just so happened to have married a man who appreciates what a big ol’ pot of chili means to me.  Last weekend, as Harrison and I sat eating hot bowls of chili watching Michigan football (beat OSU…yahoo…GO BLUE), my heart warmed with thoughts of my dad and feeling lucky to have a husband who gives me that same simple comfort each day. 

So today, while Harrison is away (at Harvard for a Ferran Adrià lecture and dinner… seriously… can I join culinary school?), I am heating up a bowl of this chili with cozy socks with that third guy in my life, Turtle, by my side.

Let’s let loose on some hearty veggie chili, shall we?

Base ingredients: tomatoes, lentils and kale.

Ingredients:

  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic chick peas (aka garbanzo beans)
  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic cannelloni or white beans
  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic red kidney beans
  • (1) 15 oz. can of organic sweet corn
  • (1) 24 oz. can of organic green beans (thanks to Harrison’s Yaya for sending us beans from her garden!)
  • 8 oz. of lentils (green or red)
  • (2) 28 oz. cans of whole tomatoes (typically roma or plum)
  • (3) medium onions, fine diced
  • (6) – (8) garlic cloves, fine diced
  • (1) carrot, fine diced
  • (4) jalapenos, thinly julienned (strips)
  • (1) bunch of kale  (purple or green), rough chopped
  • (1) medium sweet potato, fine diced (we used local garnet yams)
  • (3/4) cup of fresh cilantro, chopped
  • (1/8) cup of fresh oregano, chopped
  • (2) Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • (4) bay leaves
  • (8) cups of water

Now that's a beautiful countertop.

Dry Seasonings:

  • (2) and (1/4) Tablespoons of Kosher salt + pepper to taste
  • (2) and (1/2) Tablespoon of ground cumin
  • (1) Tablespoon of paprika
  • (4) Tablespoons of chili powder (or 1/2 cup)
  • (2) teaspoons of dried oregano
  • (1) teaspoon of dried thyme

I once made "chili" for Harrison without chili powder. I thought hot sauce would fill in just fine. I have since learned that those key spices are what makes chili, chili. Lesson #345 learned.

Directions:

1.  Rinse all of your canned beans and combine together.

2.  Saute your onions and garlic in EVOO in a large pot on medium heat for approx. 8 – 10 minutes (or until your onions start to show color and sweat down)

3.  Add your jalapeno, fresh oregano, carrots, and sweet potatoes and saute for 3 – 4 minutes.

There is something about the smell of sautéed onions and garlic that just makes us smile.

4.  Next, add your dry seasonings (EXCEPT salt) and continuously stir for one minute.

Here comes the flavor.

5.  Add your water, tomatoes, beans, and salt. Cover and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In go the tomatoes

Beans, beans the magical fruit...

Add your water gradually.

Looking good now.

6.  After 20 minutes, add your kale, corn and lentils and then let simmer for another hour and a half on medium low (length of time depends on how firm you want your lentils).

Last but not least...

Mmmm .... eat more kale.

7.  Add your cilantro and cook another 15 minutes or so.

8.  Then, check all ingredients to ensure they are cooked to correct tenderness.  Adjust seasoning if needed.

Who's ready for chili?

 
 
9.  And FINALLY, ladle out a big ol’ helping in each bowl, top with goat cheese or Cabot cheddar and fresh minced onion (whatever suits your fancy).  Spoon in and enjoy!
 

Warm and ready for you. We topped this bowl with Cabot cheddar cheese, diced onion, turkey chicharrones and a side of Bayley Hazen blue cheese toast.

 
Mmmm…. let winter begin.
 
Until we cook with warmth & comfort again,
A + H
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