Monday, September 26, 2011

Meatless Monday: Hearty Vegetarian Chili

Chili is a common go-to dish for both autumn nights, and Meatless Mondays. Often vegetarian chili is made as a traditional recipe, but with the animal proteins omitted, leaving it bland and flavorless. This chili is hearty and fulfilling, and won't leave you yearning for it's meaty counterpart.

You will need:
sweating finely minced mirepoix
  • about 3/4 cup of FINELY minced mirepoix. I like to make mine a week's worth at a time as I am already turning my week's celery and carrots into sticks and chunks. I use a food processor to get it really fine.
  • About 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Half a white onion, roughly chopped.
  • About 2 cups each pinto beans, kidney beans, and white beans. (cooked) I make mine a double batch, then freeze half for later. You can also use canned if you wish. 
  • 1 can diced tomatoes. You can use plain for a more mild chili, or with green chilies to help add in more heat. Hold on to your can, you'll need 2 of them of water.
  • 1 small (8oz)can tomato sauce. Again, I used the "Mexican Style" to add more heat, but use plain for mild. 
  • 1 package onion soup mix. 
  • 4 oz (1/2 cup) rinsed lentils.
  • Cumin, about a palm-full. And chili powder to taste. Salt to taste if you wish.
I've found this combination to feel the best in your mouth
Begin by sweating your mirepoix in the olive oil over medium-low heat. If you slowly let it get a bit brown it will had more richness. Turn your heat up to medium, add your chopped onion. The mirepoix will reduce and melt into the final chili, and help to create a richer, more substantial feel. The additional onion will provide the lovely bits of onion you're used to in your chili.
After your onion has cooked for about a minute or two, add your tomato, sauce, soup mix and the water (2 tomato cans). Stir in your beans, lentils and the spices. I find that the soup mix provides most of the salt needed, and often I don't need to add any more salt!
Let your chili come up to a soft boil, then reduce to a simmer and let simmer and thicken for 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Your lentils will start to break down into the sauce, and also still provide a bit of chew.

Serve with your favorite toppings and sides.
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