One of the first meals I ever learned to make was a vegetarian chili. I was in university at the time. I was also a vegetarian with limited funds so my diet consisted of food court salads, bagels, frozen yogurt and canned corn. Not exactly healthy. You can imagine how proud I was when I first made a veggie chili! The recipe contained 4 ingredients – one of which was Old El Paso salsa. I was definitely not going to win any culinary awards but at least I wasn’t eating bagels for dinner.
Since then I have refined my recipe just a bit. The ingredient list has increased – not to complicate things but to add depth of flavor. And the Old El Paso salsa has vanished but it is still a super easy, super healthy mid-week vegetarian dish.
One of the key ingredients to the dish is chipotle chiles which are smoked jalapeño chiles. You can buy them dried but I prefer them canned because the adobo sauce they come in is just as flavorful as the chiles themselves. However, these are not always easy to come by. If you are in the south of France as I am forget about it – unless of course you order online (Hooray for the internet! www.souschef.co.uk) If you are in the US chipotles can be found in the Mexican section of many supermarkets. But as wonderful as these chiles are you can make substitutions if need be. One teaspoon of chile flakes and some smoked paprika can give heat and smokiness to the dish and create a lovely chili.
I make this dish year round but on a night like tonight – rain pounding the french doors, a fire burning, an episode of Downton Abbey on television and me and a bowl of chili nestled up on the sofa – it really hits the spot!
- A glug of olive oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large garlic clove, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, diced
- 1 small sweet potato, diced
- 1 zuchinni (courgette), diced
- 3 Tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 Tablespoons chili powder
- ½ cup red wine
- 2 14 oz (400 ml) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 chipotle chili pepper, minced plus a teaspoon of adobo sauce
- ¾ Tablespoons fennel seed
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 can black beans or red beans
- 1 can sweet corn or 1 cup frozen sweet corn
- 1 cup fresh diced tomatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 small bunch of cilantro (coriander), chopped
- Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream
- Grated Cheddar Cheese
- Brown Rice
- Diced avocado
- Chopped Scallions (Spring Onions)
- Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan and sauté the onions for 5 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and sauté 30 seconds before adding the peppers. Sauté 5 minutes.
- Add the sweet potatoes and sauté a couple minutes before adding the zucchini, cumin and chili powder. Stir until the spices are fragrant.
- Add the red wine, canned tomatoes, chilis, fennel seed, oregano and basil. Bring to a simmer. Lower the heat, cover with a lid and allow to very gently simmer for 20-25 minutes to allow the flavors to blend and the vegetables to cook.
- Add the canned beans and corn and heat through. Add the diced tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the cilantro just before eating.
- Pile the chili on top of brown rice and top with sour cream, grated cheese, diced avocado and chopped spring onions.