Anyone who is born and raised in Texas loves chili. It is an official state food, right?
So on a wet and cold winter night, what’s better than a steamy bowl of homemade chili? With some grated cheese, chopped green onions and a dollop of sour cream, OMG. And how could I possibly forget that chili requires Fritos or crispy tortilla chips?
Honestly, I can’t think of much that represents a Texas winter better, but finding a perfect recipe for a vegetarian chili has been challenging at best. They are either wimpy in flavor or not hearty enough or too this or not enough that.
But I am persistent and the vegetarian chili I whipped up last night was a solid 10.
The ratio of veggies to beans was just right. It was flavorful, but not too spicy. It was saucy, but not too wet. And, today, it’s going to be even that much better.
Just Right Vegetarian Chili
This vegetarian chili is the Cinderella of all chilis. It's flavorful, but not too spicy. It's hearty and loaded with vegetables. It's neither wet nor dry and it's even better the next day. The recipe can easily be doubled and any leftovers can be frozen for the next time the craving for a hearty and flavorful chili strikes.
- 4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3/4 large onion chopped
- 2 stalks organic celery cut in half lengthwise and diced
- 3 organic carrots quartered and roughly diced
- 1 zucchini quartered and diced
- 1 red or yellow pepper diced
- 3/4 jalapeno seeded and diced (or 2 serranos--you be the judge of how much heat you want, but I thought 3/4 jala was just perfect)
- 4 cloves garlic diced
- 1-28 oz. can of organic whole peeled tomatoes with the juice
- 2 tablespoons freshly ground chili powder I used New Mexico chili powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon as veggies cook
- 1 1/2 cups of water
- 1 15-16 oz. can of black beans I use the Whole Foods 365 brand of No Salt Added, drained and rinsed
- 1 15-16 oz. can of red kidney beans again, if you can, choose the No Salt Added, drained and rinsed
- 1-1 1/2 cups frozen organic corn add one cup and if you want to add another 1/2 cup, go for it
Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery, sprinkle a little salt (1/8 teaspoon) and saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrrots, zucchini, jalapeno and garlic and stir to combine. Sprinkle another dash of salt (1/8 teaspoon) over the veggies to release their juices and let simmer another 5 minutes.
Add the can of tomatoes with its juices, crushing the tomatoes with your fingers as you drop them in the pot. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Pour 1 1/2 cups of water, stir and cook 10 minutes so flavors blend.
Open the cans of beans and drain both into a colander in the sink. Rinse thoroughly to remove any sodium.
Add beans to pot and reduce heat to medium-low, stirring occasionally. Simmer until chili is thick, about 45 minutes to an hour. Add frozen corn to pot after the chili has been simmering 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Serve in big bowls and top with grated cheese, chopped green onions, sour cream, chopped jalapenos, chopped tomatoes, whatever your heart desires.
Serve with corn bread and a salad. Oh, and some Fritos or tortilla chips!