Warm spices add a rich Southwestern flavor to this vegetarian chili and the vegetables and beans make it healthy and hearty. This vegetarian chili comes together quickly once the vegetables are prepped. Simmer over low heat to blend the flavors for just 30 minutes and get ready for a great bowl of chili.
The Snowy Playground of Park City, Utah
We just returned from a long weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in the snowy winter playground of Park City, Utah. Started as a mining town in the 1880′s, it’s now a world-class winter sports destination. Kent was there for a conference and I got to tag along. One day the company let everyone out of the conference to go have some fun in the snow. After a morning of snowshoeing and dog sledding (and of course, playing with the dogs), we had a warming lunch of hearty chili before heading out snowmobiling.
Vegetarian Chili with Smoked Spices
Back home, making a pot of my vegetarian chili reminded me of this fun weekend. Filled with colorful vegetables, aromatic garlic and onions, tender beans, herbs and smoked spices, you won’t miss the meat. One of my clients requests this recipe practically every time I cook for them.
Between tickets to one of the hot films, discovering a gem of an olive oil shop (Mountain Town Olive Oil), sparkling snow and invigorating mountain air we had a great weekend. I’ll leave out the part where I flipped my snowmobile and ended up on crutches.
A Note on Spices
If you like smoky flavors, you’ll love smoked paprika and smoked pepper. Find then at many grocecers, spice shops and online. If you don’t have smoked spices, make the chili with regular paprika and pepper. Another way to add smoky flavor is with crushed urfa chilies and ground chipotle pepper.
Urfa chilies are a purplish-black color and hail from the town of Urfa, Turkey. If you like Aleppo pepper, you like these too. Urfa chile is earthy, rich and a little smoky. Try urfa chile in omelets and scrambled eggs or added to cornbread. They are a 3-4 on the chile heat scale so not too hot. If you like your chili hot, increase the chipotle but do so sparingly. Chipotle powder is made from ground, smoked jalapeno peppers so it packs quite a punch. Ground ancho chile is the foundation for the spice blend called chili powder. Its rich in flavor but packs no heat.
Top the chili with sliced green onions, grated cheese (if you eat dairy), a drizzle of good olive oil, or slices of cool, ripe avocado. Vegetarian chili will keep for 4 days in the refrigerator, always ready for a warming lunch or dinner. It also works perfectly as a party dip with tortillas chips.
Vegetarian Chili with Smoked Spices
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion chopped small
- 3 garlic cloves chopped fine
- 2 tablespoons ground ancho chili pepper
- 1 tablespoons smoked paprika
- 2-3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon smoked black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground chipotle powder
- 1/4 teaspoon urfa chile optional
- 1 tablespoon dried Italian blend herbs
- 1 pound carrots peeled and diced small
- 1 large zucchini about 8 ounces , quartered, seedy center cut out, and diced small
- 1 medium yellow squash or use yellow zucchini, quartered, seedy center cut out, and diced small
- 3 14 ounce cans petite diced tomatoes drained and juice reserved
- 1 15 ounce can organic kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 1 15 ounec can organic Cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- sliced green onions
- grate cheddar or Jack cheese
- 1-2 avocados peeled and sliced
- In a 5-6 quart (5-6 liter) heavy pot heat olive oil over medium heat; add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook another minute, stirring so garlic does not burn. Add all spices and herbs. Cook for about 3-4 minutes until the spices release their oils and fragrance, stirring occasionally.
- Add carrots and drained tomato juices and cook until carrots are softened when pierced with a knife tip. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, drained tomatoes and beans. Add 1 teaspoon of kosher salt. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low and simmer until all vegetables are soft and flavors have blended, about 30 minutes. Remove the lid and check the chili. If you want it thicker simmer for a few more minutes with the lid off. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper to your taste. Garnish as desired and serve hot.