hearty vegetable chili ... from scratch!

This morning it snowed for the first time this year! While the first snow is always pretty and exciting, and pretty exciting, it means winter is coming and winter is a long, long time in the Northeast.
But, there's chili. What would winter be without it? It's darn near perfect. It's hearty. It's spicy (if you want). It's warm. It's versatile. It's delicious.

I take the same approach to making chili that I do for everything else. I wing it. Always. Chili is easy to do that with.

Here's what I put in this chili:

1 yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red peppers, chopped
2 green peppers, chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped (optional, to taste)
1 small white potato, chopped (optional)
1 portobello mushroom, chopped (optional)
5 smallish vine-rippened tomatoes, chopped (could sub 1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes)
1 15oz can dark red kidney beans
1 15oz can black beans
2-4 Tbsp chili powder
1 good shake cayenne (optional, to taste)
1/4-1/2 Tbsp dried cilantro (optional, or you could use fresh)
2-3 good shakes of smokey chipotle Tabasco (optional)
1 small drizzle of agave (because I thought it might be getting to spicy, this is definitely optional)
1 cup beef broth (made from water and Better Than Bouillon beef base, optional ... if not for this, this chili would've been vegan. You could use a vegetable broth or just go with some plain old free water)

I also threw in some celery because I had it to use up. You could add any color pepper. I've put corn in there before. You could use different beans. Ground beef, ground turkey, bison, moose. TVP. Rice. Basically, as long as you have beans of some kind, peppers, onion, garlic, and tomato, you can throw in chili powder and have chili. The rest is up to you. I've also put in cocoa powder in, in the past. I'm not sure if it really had a big affect, but it's an idea to play with.

At any rate, I sauteed the onion and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat until the onion had become transparent (stir regularly, leave the lid on). Then I added the peppers, mushroom and potato. I let that basically heat through, stirring occasionally (lid on), while I chopped the tomatoes. I added the tomatoes and let this whole mixture sit over high heat (lid off), stirring regularly until the vegetables released all their juices and reduced their size by about 1/3 (when your pot is 1/3 less full than when you started, in other words). Then I threw in my beans, spices/seasonings and the broth mixture and cooked over high heat, lid on, but cocked to the side, allowing steam out, until the potatoes were soft (if you can stick a fork in 'em, they're done).

That's all. That's chili for you.

Feel free to share your special chili renditions in the comments!

Peace & love,

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