Slightly cooler temps = spicy three bean chili
All of my bitching about hot temperatures brought about a change in the weather. OK, that had nothing to do with it, but we've been hit with 2 days of much needed rain, the kind of weather that makes me want to curl up with a book and put a pot of soup on the stove. So what if it's a comfortable 74 degrees? Cooler weather calls for a celebration, and the promise of autumn brings thoughts of football, colorful leaves, and hearty foods. Fall is the best time for chili.
I took a yoga class after work, delaying my return home by an hour, so I used canned beans for my veggie chili meal. I use dried beans whenever possible (better flavor, less sodium, significantly less expensive), but this was a last minute decision, and I wanted chili before midnight.
My vegetarian chili recipe isn't set it stone — sometimes I add smoky chipolte peppers, toss in a zucchini or two, add a bottle of ale — but this recipe is a pretty standard starting point. I love the heat and complexity provided by fire-roasted tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, but feel free to make adjustments. Cooling garnishes include sour cream and cheese, if you like that kind of thing. I settled for a sprinkling of scallions on top, a piece of cornbread on the side. Hunkered down with a bowl of spicy bean marvelousness, my legs tucked underneath me on the couch, and a book in hand (The 19th Wife, which is good, but I've reached the saturation point with this polygamy thing), I couldn't have planned a better night.
Spicy Three Bean Chili
Makes about 8 servings
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
3 jalapeno peppers
2 teaspoons ground cumin (freshly ground if possible)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 bay leaves
2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes, including juice
1 28-ounce can whole peeled or diced tomatoes, including juice
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained
1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained
1 15-ounce can black beans, drained
freshly ground black pepper
cheddar cheese, grated
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot. Add the onion and garlic and cook over medium low heat until soft. Add the green pepper, celery and jalapeno, and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the chili powder, freshly ground cumin and bay leaves. Add the tomatoes and beans, stirring well to combine. Sprinkle with a few pinches of kosher salt and bring to a simmer. If the chili is too thick, thin it with a little water. Cook for at least 30 minutes before serving — longer is better. Like most chilies, this one improves with time. For best results, make it a day in advance.