Sunday, November 6, 2011

Hearty Veggie Chili

I love this time of year--there's a nip in the air and there's a sense of grounded-ness...of 'settling in' to the winter and to the end of the year. In fall, I always take stock of the year. Maybe due to the school system, I really do think of fall as the beginning of the new year more than January 1st. For me, it's a time to reassess the direction of my life, what I want, and what this year will hold. Because of that, fall is a really healthy time for me. It can be difficult--as all the pumpkin lattes, scones, and breads arrive at every corner cafe (and I do love a pumpkin anything except pie, weirdly....). Candy is abundant. The food magazines start featuring roasts and nachos on their covers instead of fresh salads and grilled chicken breasts. Yet eating that stuff just doesn't line up with this forward-thinking, self-caring time of year. For me, luckily, comfort food is anything that can be eaten with a spoon. So soup often fits the bill for this time of year. This veggie chili is hearty and filling and continues to get even better-tasting over the next few days. This makes a big batch, so freezing half of it for another comfort food day may save you from the allure of the beef stew, pot pie, or cheesy potatoes that are so often billed as such. Really, isn't it more comforting to know you are taking care of this one and only body you have?

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and sliced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
2 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced
1 1/2-2 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1 teaspoon fresh oregano
salt and pepper
2 28-oz cans good diced tomatoes
1 small can diced jalapenos, drained
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 boxes broth (vegetable or beef)
1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste (optional)
2 cups chopped kale
corn kernels from 1 cob
Shredded cheese and light sour cream (optional)

1. In a large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook until soft, about 7 minutes.

2. Add celery, sweet potato, and carrot, chili powder, cumin, oregano, and a large pinch of salt and some fresh pepper, stirring occasionally for another 7-10 minutes.

3. Add tomatoes, jalapenos, beans, broth, and garlic paste. Stir. Bring to a boil then turn to low and simmer for 1 hour.

4. Add kale and corn. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning. Simmer another 20 minutes.

5. To serve, ladle the chili into a bowl. Add a sprinkle of cheese with a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Serves 8.