Traveling the world through cuisine

Chili? In July?

When thoughts of chili come to mind, most would imagine cold winter days warmed by a hot bowl of this red goodness. That or maybe some wild west moment with a big pot of spicy chili on hand to feed a large crowd in attendance.

So beyond your typical chili fest or cookoff, why would one think of crafting a pot of this yummy stew in the middle of July, with the summer heat in full swing? I would respond “why not?”

Any time of the year is a good one to enjoy a bowl of chili. It’s a hearty meal in itself that’s perfect for any occasion. Loaded with variety, you can go from a simple beef and tomatoes to grandiose concoctions of color and flavor.

So imagine a day when grocery shopping I tell Zuzana I’m in the mood for chili, but she asks me instead if I could make a vegetable soup. I figure the easiest response is “why not both?” Beef prices are high right now, so beyond the perks of good health, it’s also become financially beneficial to go vegetarian.

The chili I have for you today is as vegetarian as I desire. Remove the beef base and you have a vegan chili on your hands, but I still like a chili that tastes like there was beef in it. The cauliflower was added for texture. Broken up it kind of reminds the palette of ground beef.

It’s light, flavorful, and can be as spicy as you desire. Try it out:

Vegetable Chili

Vegetable Chili

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1 Spanish onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 6 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2-3 bell peppers, diced
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into bits
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz each) of diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 2 tbsp of beef base
  • 3-6 tbsp of chili powder
  • 2 tbsp of Italian seasoning blend
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) of dark red kidney beans, drained
  • 2 cans (15 oz each) of cannellini beans, drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a stock pot, heat up the olive oil on medium-high heat.
  2. Place the onion and garlic into the oil. Cook until the onion is soft and the garlic fragrant.
  3. Add in the carrots, celery, and peppers.
  4. Stir and continue cooking the mixture for 5 minutes.
  5. Mix in the cauliflower bits, tomatoes, and beef base.
  6. Season the mixture with the chili powder, Italian seasoning blend, salt, and pepper.
  7. Pour in the water and stir until the chili is fully blended.
  8. Bring the pot to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer the chili for 10 minutes.
  9. Add in all the beans and cook the chili for five more minutes before serving.

Quick Notes

When preparing the cauliflower, break it down into tiny pieces. The goal is to recreate the texture of ground meat.

Do not add the canned beans in too early, or else they'll turn to mush. If you wish to use dried beans, then be sure to soak them according to directions, and cook them thoroughly.

Variations

You're free to add or remove any vegetables you wish. If you want to make this a vegan chili, then hold off on the beef base, but compensate with more salt to your taste.

Serving Suggestions

I like this chili the way I like other chili. Add a dollup of sour cream (or Greek yogurt), sprinkle shredded cheese, green onions, or chives.

Tags: chili, vegetable, Tex-Mex

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