Love love love making soups, almost as much as I love making cupcakes. This is one of my favorite soups to make. Making chili definitely gets me in the mood for colder weather and cozy dinner parties. An awesome fact: no one I've ever served this chili to has regretted the fact that there's no meat! A great trick is the addition of the red lentils. They break down and create a texture very similar to meat, guests have actually mistaken it for turkey chili.
The base of this recipe I've made many times and it continues to evolve. I don't think I've ever made it the same way twice. It's a great way to use up some leftover produce that is just sitting in the fridge, and don't be afraid to sub in your favorite veggies or beans. It does take a good bit of time to prepare, but it's easy to multitask once you get it allgoing. I'll usually work on etsy orders or laundry while it's simmering.
It's super hardy and flavorful, and also very versatile. Most of the time I'll make this chili on a Sunday and we'll eat variations of it throughout the week. Here a some ways to change up just a basic bowl of chili (because who can stand eating the exact same thing all week long).
1. Try out some different toppings. My favorites are a bit of greek yogurt, lime, and cilantro. Sharp cheddar, cotija, manchego, or pepper jack are great cheese options for a bit of indulgence. Meat lovers might want to throw a bit of crumbled bacon on top or some shredded chicken. Bottom line, just get creative! There a million different ways to jazz up chili with toppings.
2. Make nachos!! Or Frito pies! Pile those chili leftovers on top of tortilla chips or corn chips. Once again, get creative with the toppings. Black olives, avocado, jalapenos, fresh onions are just a few that I favor. And don't forget your favorite cheese. How about a variation of this variation....? (I'm getting all 'Inception' on you now) Sub out the chips for cornbread or even use greens for a taco salad.
3. Chili for breakfast.... Huevos rancheros perhaps? This is one of my favorite weekend breakfast treats. Warm up a tortilla (corn or flour, whichever you prefer), a layer of your homemade chili, then pile on the eggs anyway you like them. Just a little tip, a runny yolk makes this dish extra yummy. Top with a little sour cream, cheese and avocado - enjoy!
4. Now for the obvious choice, chili dogs!! Bun, hot dog, chili - done.
Any other ideas for jazzing up chili? I'd love to hear your favorite ways to eat this cold weather staple.
Serves 8-10-ish (keeps refrigerated for 1 week)
From prep to meal time - about 2.5 -3 hours
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
8 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon cumin
4 or 5 tablespoons chili powder (you can season to taste here)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 14.5 oz can chicken or veggie broth
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (I used a combo of fresh and canned tomatoes this time - depends on what i have. Also I puree my tomatoes in the food processor, i just prefer the texture this way)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cup dried green lentils
1 cup dried red lentils
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 cup of corn (canned or frozen) - I was out of corn this time but it makes a great addition
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
Sour cream or plain greek yogurt, optional
1. Heat the oil in a large pot (large enough to handle alot of chili) over medium-high heat.
2. Add the onion, bell peppers, carrots, celery and cook until onion is translucent and peppers are softening. About 10-15 minutes.
4. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
5. Push the vegetables to the perimeter of the pot so that the center of the pot is clear.
6. Sprinkle the cumin into the center of pot and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.
7. Stir the cumin and vegetables together and let cook until the cumin is fragrant, about 1 minute.
8. Add the chili powder and cayenne pepper and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
9. Add 2 cups water and the broth and stir well to combine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
10. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
11. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano, and brown sugar, and bring back to a simmer.
12. Add lentils. Simmer until lentils are soft - 45 minutes to an hour....maybe longer. Adjust the thickness however you see fit, you may want to add more water or broth.
13. Then add the beans and corn and stir gently to incorporate. Salt and pepper to taste.
13. Remove the pot from the heat and stir cilantro, and lime juice immediately before serving.
|And Enjoy! shown here with Jalapeno Cheese Bread from a local bakery|