We all have a recipe for chili, but take a moment to really think about your favorite one: why is it your favorite? Is it the flavor? The memories? The warmth? The fact that you mainly just throw a bunch of stuff into a pot and call it a day?
My old chili recipe was involved. The ingredients list was 25 lines long, and included things like brown sugar, beer, molasses (more sugar), a specific roasted raspberry chipotle sauce (that has 18g of sugar/2 tablespoons, and my recipe called for 1/4 cup), maple syrup (even more sugar?!), creamed corn (yes, somehow more)... and it was always served with an entire loaf of crispy baguette.. aka white bread aka more sugar. It was good, don't get me wrong, but the amount of sugar in this recipe is frightening. I don't even want to do the math. I took something so simple, so nutritious, so delicious... and just went overboard. It was basically a sweet and savory dessert.
Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Make It Simple (but) Significant.
Chili doesn't have to be complicated. I discovered this, sadly for the first time, recently. It was snowing, and after a long walk with our dog, we were wishing we had chili. So, we made chili with what we had in our fridge.. and it was perfect. Not only was it delicious and filling, but it made me realize that chili doesn't need to be a production. My old recipe took 1.5 hours. This one took 15 minutes (and we had leftovers). Chili is an opportunity to KISS or MISS with quality, nutritious ingredients. Pack them all in, warm yourself up, and feel good about it afterwards.
Simple, Warming Chili
Vegan, Gluten-free (if you omit the optional quinoa) // Serves 6-8
Remember, chili is a "kitchen sink" style meal: if you're missing an ingredient, feel free to omit. If you have a favorite bean, vegetable, or protein on hand? Toss it in!
- 1 Big Can Crushed Tomatoes (we like 365 Brand with Basil and no BPA from Whole Foods)
- 1.5 Cups Organic Vegetable Broth (you can add more if you like your chili thinner)
- 1 Cup Lentils
- 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
- 1/2 Yellow Onion, thinly sliced
- 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
- 1 Tomato, chopped
- 1 Red Pepper, chopped
- 1 Cup Mushrooms, chopped
- 1-2 Cups Beans (Black, Kidney, Pinto or a combination!)
- 1 Package Vegan Burger Crumbles (Beyond Meat & Smart Ground are good options)
- 1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
- 1 Teaspoon each: Turmeric, Paprika, Cumin
- 1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
- Sea or Pink Salt & Pepper, to taste
- Optional: 2/3 Cup Quinoa (we didn't have this, but usually add it! It's great either way!)
- Optional: 1 Avocado, for garnish
1. Warm a large soup pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add crushed tomatoes, vegetable broth, lentils, and quinoa (if using) and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to low heat.
3. Warm a skillet and 1-2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.
4. Add onions and garlic to skillet, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cook until onions are golden, fragrant, and slightly translucent. Add to soup pot.
5. Use the same skillet to cook your burger crumbles: over medium heat with 1-2 Tablespoons of olive oil for 8-10 minutes or until browned. Add to soup pot.
5. Add the rest of the ingredients: vegetables, beans, and spices to soup pot.
6. Let simmer for a few minutes (or hours!), taste, and adjust seasonings if needed.