Surprising Chili

There are a number of surprises with this chili- one of the first is that it’s an amazingly delicious vegetarian chili.  (If you don’t want vegetarian, you can add meat- leftover BBQ chicken is fabulous).

But there are other surprises, too- some secret bites of something oddly sweet and tasty which sounds strange, but actually works.  The secret ingredient is one that I really dislike in almost anything else, but I do like it in this chili recipe.  Nobody has ever been able to identify this secret ingredient, and I have often received compliments on it.

When we lived in Japan we had the single and unaccompanied military people from church over for games and food every weekend.  This chili recipe was a regular, because it can be stretched to go really far, it’s filling, and it is frugal.It comes from the Wings of Life vegetarian cookbook and makes 8 servings:

Ingredients:

2-3 cups cooked kidney or pinto beans (1 cup dry)
4 medium onions, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2 stalks celery, finely chopped
3 or more mashed cloves garlic
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp oregano
1 Tablespoon chili or 1/2 teaspoon chile powder (chili powder is a blend of spices, chile with an e at the end is ground up dried red peppers)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 quart home-canned tomatoes
freshly ground black pepper
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup or so red wine vinegar or cider vinegar
Secret ingredients:
1/2 to 1 cup cashews
1 handful raisins or 1 Tablespoon molasses

1. The night before, start your beans soaking (you can make quick soak, but they are better soaked overnight).

2. The day you want soup, get out a big pot in the morning, put some oil in the bottom and stir fry the onions, green peppers, celery and garlic.  Add spices and herbs, stirring constantly.

3. Stir in about a quart, or four cups, of canned tomatoes 

4. Grind in some fresh black pepper.  Add a bay leaf.
Add salt.
Add the secret ingredients:

5. Add a generous splash of red wine vinegar

6. Cover and simmer, stirring gnetly.

7. Add water or broth from beans as needed, add vegetables.

8. Add your cooked beans and any extra water needed (use broth from beans when possible) to make it the consistency you like.

9.  Simmer, taste, add additional seasoning- more red wine vinegar if desired.

Serve with grated cheese and warm cornbread, although if you are vegan, of course, you’d leave out the cheese or use a substitute.

After a while I made it without the nuts, but I really like the raisins, even though I do not like them in anything else.  You can also stir in about 1/8 cup of cocoa powder for a really rich broth.

Linked at Veggie Converter’s Vegan Mondays

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