I love a traditional, spicy chili, slow-simmered. This is a vegan-friendly version, designed to simmer in the oven while you watch a movie, chase your kids around, or finish that report you need to get written. I hope you enjoy it. Since I get requests for recipes, I’ll walk you through it. You can most definitely adjust the proportions – this makes a large Dutch oven full, which is dinner, plus lunch, for two, and several more meals’ worth for the freezer, or just enough for a big crowd for dinner.
Olive or canola oil (I am using canola these days because it is produced in Canada)
2 cloves garlic
3 stalks celery
2 large carrots
1 green and 1 red bell pepper
2 cans or l large bowl of cooked beans, as you like (kidney are traditional, but we had chickpeas and black-eyed peas on hand)
2 cans diced tomatoes stewed without salt (large cans, 28oz.)
1 T/15ml each of chili powder, oregano, smoked paprika
1 chopped chipotle in adobo (or another jalapeno and a bit more smoky paprika)
1/4c/60ml red lentils (split peas will also work, but take longer to cook)
If you’re working alone, chop everything, then start. If you are working as a duo, chop the onions and garlic, and the other can stir and manage the cooking while one chops.
Heat the oil over medium heat. Turn the oven on to 350F
Add the onions and garlic:
Stir and sweat these until they start to get shiny, then add the celery:
You can use a machine to chop, but honestly, the time to chop each vegetable gives just about the right gap for the prior one to cook a little. Now for the carrots – these aren’t a traditional chili vegetable, perhaps, but they have the tremendous effect of adding a little sweetness to the chili, as do the onions as they sweat down more and more.
After the carrots, the peppers, the most tender of the vegetables, come last. Use any colour, but red and green give a great combination. Continue to cook until this mixture of vegetables (the “holy trinity plus” or a mirrepoix) have begun to soften nicely. Now you’re ready for the rest of the ingredients.
Tomatoes come first, then the beans. Stir everything well so you get a good mixture.
Canned beans are easy and fast, but they often have a lot of added salt, which most of us don’t need any more of in our modern diets. We get enough naturally. In the EAT section of this blog you can find a recipe to cook your own; they can also be prepared very nicely in a pressure cooker.
Adding a few red lentils will help it thicken and contribute to the meatier texture some people prefer.
Bring this to a simmer over medium heat, then put it all in the oven uncovered for at least an hour.
It will cook down and thicken considerably; you can let it carry on for as long as it takes until you are ready to serve. Sometimes we will make a batch of cornbread on the side, but it really didn’t need anything else. Enjoy!
I’m always grateful for the opportunity to cook together with friends or family and to have a warm, low-maintenance dinner at the ready. Freeze whatever you don’t need, and remember it’s always better on the second day.