Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Dsc00475 This is the first of a two-part post.  Today, I am sharing with you my recipe for a healthy and hearty vegetarian chili.  What goes better with chili than cornbread?  If you answered "nothing", then you are correct.  So, tomorrow, I will provide you with my take on the ultimate chili companion.

Chili is a hotly debated subject, and everyone thinks that their chili is the best.  There are over one hundred chili cook-offs in the state of Texas alone, and there are countless schools of thought as to what should go into the perfect chili concoction.  If you are a member of the International Chili Society, then you can even refer to yourself as a "Chilihead" (that is, if you actually want to.)

Chili usually isn't thought of as being a health food, but this is a version that is a self-contained well rounded meal.  It is full of protein, fiber, and vegetables.  It is low in fat and a small serving will fill you up.  It is full of zesty seasonings without being too hot, but you can adjust it to your own heat preference by adding or subtracting chilies.  The unique addition of bulgur (see definition below) to this recipe almost gives it a meaty texture, so you don't really feel like you are missing out on anything by eating a healthier meal.   Here are my comments for the chili:

  • The chili lasts for 5-6 days, covered and refrigerated.
  • All different kinds of beans work in this recipe.  Just make sure that you have four cans in all.  I like to use a combination of any of the following types: kidney, black, garbanzo, pinto, or cannelini.
  • If you like your chili to be extra spicy, you can replace the jalapeno peppers, with one or two minced chipotle chilies in adobo sauce.
  • Bulgur is a grain that is similar to cracked wheat and is most commonly found in tabbouleh salad or pilafs.  Its nutritional value makes it a good substitute for rice or couscous.  In most supermarkets, it is usually found in the health foods or organic foods sections or occasionally it is shelved with the rice and grains.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili

Serves 6-8


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oilDsc00406

1 yellow onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

3 jalapeno chilies, seeded and minced

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree

3 cups water

two 15-ounce cans black beans, drained

two 15-ounce cans kidney beans, drained

½ cup bulgur

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin

1 ½ teaspoons ground coriander

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrots, red bell pepper, and jalapenos and saute until the onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, 3 cups water, beans, bulgur, white wine vinegar, garlic, and spices.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until the bulgur is tender and the mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.  Ladle the chili into bowls and serve hot!

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