Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vegetarian Chipotle Chili

The weather is still super hot here in the South, but between my friends chatting about fall on Facebook and my recent purchase of some new cords and boots, I'm already looking ahead to the soon-to-come chilly days and cool weather meals like soup.

I'll be honest, I love soup and chili. Whether it’s 10 below in the dead of winter or 100 degrees in the blistering heat of summer, I will down a bowl of soup like no one’s business.

I’m not exactly sure what it is about soup that is so appealing. Maybe it’s the variety of flavors and textures all married together in one tasty bowl. Maybe it’s the simplicity of one pot cooking. Or maybe it’s the reminder of the comfort I found in a bowl of homemade soup my mom fixed when I was a kid. Whatever it is, I love making it and love eating it even more. And the leftovers…don’t even get me started.

One of the great things about soup is that, more often that not, you can throw just about anything in you want and it will taste great. I take the most liberties on my soup recipes, omitting things, adding things, and generally never measuring much of anything. It’s one of the easiest ways I’ve found to go meatless on a tight budget and, at this time of year, it’s a great way to use up the abundance of fresh veggies from the garden or inexpensive veggies from the store.

This recipe is one I found while scouting out meatless options on the Whole Foods website. It’s a huge hit with my husband and can be tweaked endlessly for personal taste or to fit whatever veggies you’ve got on hand.

Vegetarian Chipotle Chili
Adapted from Whole Foods

2 tbsp. canola oil
½ c. chopped onion
½ c. chopped carrot
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 package reduced sodium chili seasoning mix
1-3 tbsp. finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, with their liquid
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans, drained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained
1 c. water

Additional veggies – I often add spinach, zucchini, red or yellow peppers, corn, etc.
Chopped green onions
Sour cream
Grated cheese

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onions and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes. Add peppers and continue cooking until warmed through. Stir in seasoning mix and chipotles, then add tomatoes, beans and water. Gently simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Ladle chili into individual bowls and garnish with green onions, sour cream or cheese, if desired.
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