Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting Chili...

We've had stunningly beautiful but really, really cold days here in the Pacific Northwest this past week.  As my Grandmother used to say, "I'm cold as a frog!"  A constant supply of soup, baked goods, and warm drinks have been issuing from my kitchen lately.  Last night's offering was 4 Bean Vegetarian Chili.

I started making chili like this in college when my Mom sent me a recipe that looked pretty simple.  Just open a bunch of cans, dump it all in, and boil it for a while.  Since then, I've refined the recipe some.  I no longer buy canned beans and I use tomatoes I've canned myself.  I added jalapeños too to give it a little bit of heat.  Uh, and I changed the spices, too.  So basically, nothing is the same except it's vegetarian and it has beans in it...

A lot of this recipe is easily substituted.  The small sweet peppers can be replaced with a green pepper and you can add any bean you want to this really. White or cannellini  beans would be great in this, for example.  I have made this with hamburger for friends who simply must have meat in their chili, and I used to use vegetarian "beef" crumbles in it before I cut back on meat substitutes.  Nobody really misses either of those, but you can certainly add them if you want.  The hamburger I would fry up with the onions and peppers, and the soy meat should be added toward the end of cooking time.  Also, I made this one on the stove tonight, but this is an excellent slow cooker meal.  Just add all the ingredients to a crock pot and heat for 6-8 hours.  

This is a great one to feed a crowd as it makes enough for 8 or 9, easily!

4 Bean Vegetarian Chili
1 Can garbanzo beans (1/4 lb dry)
1 Can black beans (1/4 lb dry)
2 Cans pinto beans (1/2 lb dry)
1 Can kidney beans (1/4 lb dry)
1 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 medium to large onion, roughly chopped
1 large jalapeño, sliced
7 small sweet peppers, sliced
3-4 large cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
1 jar of tomatoes (or a can)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

If you use dry beans, soak them overnight separately and boil them each until they are cooked through or do them in a pressure cooker.  I cooked the kidneys and pintos together for one hour and the black beans and garbanzos together for 30 minutes.  Don't worry if something comes out a tad underdone, as you will be cooking all of it for another hour at least.

Once you've got your beans taken care of, heat the oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed stock pot and sauté the onions and peppers until the onion begins to brown.  Add the garlic, chili, cumin and cayenne and stir until the garlic is fragrant and the spices have bloomed (just a few seconds).

Deglaze the pan with the juice from the tomatoes and then add the tomatoes to the pot. Add all the beans and stir to combine.  Stir in tomato paste and salt and pepper.  Adjust seasonings to your taste, keeping in mind everything will be simmering for some time.

Bring everything to a boil, stir and reduce heat to a simmer.  Allow to simmer uncovered at least an hour stirring occasionally.  Once the liquid has reduced by half, the chili can be served.  The longer you let it simmer, the more the flavor will develop and of course, this is even better the second day!

Serve this with shredded cheddar cheese, crackers, corn chips, olives, sour cream, cornbread or avocado or any combination of the above.  Also, a dash of ginger will serve to insulate you from any "musical" properties so many beans my induce in your GI tract without changing the flavor noticeably. 

My boys are crazy about this stuff!  The jalapeño adds just enough heat to let you know you're eating chili without being so overpowering the kids can't eat it.  If you're not serving it to sensitive palates add more, by all means, or do like I do and sprinkle a little over the top for adults!

02/01/14 UPDATE:
Hi folks!  I've got another great healthy Super Bowl menu this year if you're interested!


  1. I have a Chili recipe of my cousins mother in law (she is an italian american) which I have been wanting to try from a very long time. May I should just do that thus winter :) You chili is making me drool...

    1. I hope you try it and love it, Chinmayie!

  2. Oh how I love chili...and it has been ideal chili-eating weather lately! I could happily dip into yours right now.

  3. Oooh, I love experimenting with chili. I will be trying this one!

  4. Brooke, this looks delicious, I may have to try for superbowl this year! I was wondering if you use a light box for your photography? It always comes out so beautiful and I often struggle with lighting, especially with this time of year and there is less daylight.

    1. Hi, Sarah! I actually have two studio lights with umbrellas. (I used one for most shots.) My husband surprised me with them for Christmas last year. They are so great for late-night photography. And this time of year, that's like 4:00. If you look closely, you can see its reflection in the beer bottle!

    2. Hey.. whaddaya know, I do see it! Those would be so helpful, your husband is a keeper ;)

      I have been working on a studio box today actually, we will see if it works. I'll likely blog about my experiment!

  5. Just finished your recipe and the flavor is great. I have several Vegetarian Chile recipes that are great but the flavor of this one has a kick. Thanks

    1. So glad you enjoyed it! I love it when people try my recipes! =)


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