I have been a long time fan of chili and my mind still races back to when I was 22 years old and first discovered and fell in love with vegetarian chili. It was one of my first “real” jobs and the cafe next door served the most fabulous chili ever. I can ever remember how the owner looked, she was plump, you know, plump in a great way. Like I imagine a great aunt who is always smiling and loves to bake, and laugh and keep everyone happy. Well, that came through in her chili. What I loved the most about it was that it was packed full of vegetables. Somehow these made it special in comparison to good ole chili con carne. Since then I rarely made chili at home, as I always had this picture of perfection in my mind and thought it best to avoid utter-vegetarian-chili-disaster-disappointment. 20 years later, with only a hint of this memory left, I’ve created my own vegetarian chili. One I love.
Really, I think this one’s sooo good, that even meat lovers will forget about chili con carne. Let’s see what my favorite Schwabe thinks. He’s not a big meat eater, despite being German, BUT chili, without meat? We’ll see how it goes over.
Packed with vegetables, black beans – and flavor, this vegetarian chili makes for a simple lunch or dinner by dishing it up over a bowl of steamed rice along side a green salad. I like to make my chili 100% from scratch but if you are short on time, just throw in a can of beans, rather than going through the effort of soaking and cooking them. Once the chopping is done, this is quick and easy to pull together.
Preparing dried beans:
Soaking beans in water helps them to become more tender, reduces the cooking time, and helps them retain their nutrients. It also helps breakdown the complex sugars on the outside of the bean, the thing that causes gas. Put the beans in a bowl, making sure they are amply covered in water, since they will double or triple in size. Let the black beans sit in the water for at least four hours. If you can, they are best soaked overnight as this will greatly reduce the amount of cooking time.
To cook the beans:
In a large pot, add the beans and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a low simmer and cook, partially covered, until the beans are tender, but still hold their shape. Anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours depending on how dry the beans were. Since beans expand as they cook, add warm water periodically during the cooking process to keep the beans covered.
BLACK BEAN VEGETARIAN CHILI
1 cup dried black beans (175 g), soaked for at least 4 hours and cooked or 1 x 400 g can of organic black beans, rinsed (about 2 cups cooked)
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 small yellow onions, chopped (about 1-1/2 cups)
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 or 3 fresh chili peppers, seeded and finely chopped (Anaheim or serrano)
10 large brown mushrooms, stems removed, coarsely chopped
kernels from 2 fresh cobs of corn, or 1 cup frozen corn kernels (thawed)
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 x 400 g jar organic pureed tomato (passata) sauce
1 cup vegetable broth (or chicken broth) (240 ml)
old Amsterdam or sharp cheddar cheese, grated
sliced avocado, garnish
1 bunch chopped fresh coriander leaves
1. In a large pot , heat oil over medium-high heat and cook onions, carrots, celery, red pepper, garlic and fresh chili peppers, stirring, until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add mushrooms, corn, zucchini and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft and have released some of their liquid, about 6 minutes.
2. Add chili powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, cayenne and salt, cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, vegetable stock and black beans; bring to a slight boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve in bowls and garnish with grated cheese, avocado slices and cilantro. Enjoy!