Vegetarian Bean Chili

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Chili is one of those dishes that has the ability to please meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Meat eaters often seem to be happy eating vegetarian chili if it is a good one. It is also a great warming winter meal, and although we are getting closer to spring we are still in the dead of winter. As I look outside at the moment the snow is coming down. Chili sounds great.

This vegetarian bean chili is a seriously hearty chili. I mean serious. Black beans, red kidney beans, chickpeas and lentils. It’s got it all. I also used sun dried tomatoes and parsnips which you don’t usually see in chili. The reason I thought of adding sun dried tomatoes was because I was using tomato passata and not diced tomatoes since I didn’t have any on hand.

I highly recommend grinding your own spices if you can. This ensures you are getting the most flavour out of your spices. When spices are ground they start to lose flavour. So imagine the difference in flavour between spices you just ground and the pre ground spices that have been in your spice drawer/cupboard for who knows how long. You see my point? It really does make a difference. You can grind your own spices with a mortar and pestle or with a spice grinder. There is something very satisfying about the process of grinding spices with a mortar and pestle.

This isn’t to say I never use pre ground spices. I do. For the sake of convenience I always have them on hand. Just be sure that they are relatively fresh. This may mean buying them in smaller quantities so that you aren’t using spices that are 2 years old. We all have some spices that have been around for a long time, and so it is time to renew the supply.

In addition to the typical chili powder spices, cumin, coriander, chilis, oregano, I added cocoa powder and cinnamon. Makes for a richer flavour.

This vegetarian bean chili came about because I needed a quick meal when I got back from Toronto and hadn’t gone grocery shopping. I just used what I had, and cooked up a big pot which was great for several lunches that week.

What do you usually put into your vegetarian chili? I would like to know your secrets.

Vegetarian Bean Chili

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Note: If you don’t have whole dried chilies, use crushed red chilies or cayenne pepper. Amount will depend on how spicy you like it.

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, cut in small chunks
3 parsnips, cut in small chunks
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 medium red, orange or yellow peppers, diced
1 540 ml can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 540 ml can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 540 ml can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup dupuy lentils, rinsed (brown or green lentils are fine as well)
tomato passata (strained tomatoes), 700g/24oz jar
1 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes
4 cups water
sea salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
3 dried red chillies
1 tbsp smoked paprika
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp cocoa powder

Garnish: cilantro and avocado

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1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot on medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, parsnips, peppers, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for 10 minutes until veggies have softened. While the veggies are cooking, crush/grind all the spices together in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

2. Add the spices to the pot and mix to coat everything. Cook for a couple minutes stirring constantly.

3. Add the beans, chickpeas, lentils, tomato passata, and water to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

4. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer on med-low for 40-50 minutes until the chili has thickened.

5. Allow to cool a little bit before tasting and seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary.

6. Serve in bowls garnished with torn/chopped cilantro leaves and sliced avocado.

If you wanted to add greens to this chili that would be a great idea. Simply throw in some chopped spinach, kale or chard 10 minutes before the chili is done cooking.

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