Chili: Always a Good Time

Veggie-Packed Black Bean Chili

It’s been unseasonably rainy and cool in Sydney lately, save the beautiful weekend that just past. Since it’s expected to carry on like this for another month (I don’t think this has anything to do with Ground Hog’s Day, but I can’t be sure) – it’s best to just happily embrace it.

At least undesirable weather gives me an excuse to cook hearty meals that make staying inside a little more fun. And let’s face it: a big pot of chili is always a good time!

Don’t worry, I have a garnish that will make the meat lovers come around to this otherwise vegetarian chili. A generous sprinkling of crispy chorizo on top of this colorful chili will kick it into omnivore territory and add another layer of smokey flavor.

Good tortilla chips, avocado and a nice sharp cheddar are strongly encouraged as additional garnishes.

Veggie-Packed Black Bean Chili
(Serves 4-6)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 large (5 small) cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 medium sized red pepper, roughly chopped
1 medium sized green pepper, roughly chopped
2 cups squash or pumpkin, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons mild chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon smokey paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped chipotle pepper in Adobo sauce
3 cups of cooked black beans
1 cup of corn kernels (canned or frozen and thawed works)
1 can (1 1/2 cups) of diced tomatoes
1 cup water
Salt
1 chorizo sausage, finely diced and browned in a pan until crispy (optional)
In a large pot with a lid, heat olive oil over a medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt and cook for about 3-4 minutes until tender. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.
Add peppers (both red and green) and cook for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant, stirring often. Add squash and carrot, cook for another 2 minutes.
Add spices and stir to coat the onions, pepper, and pumpkin and cook for 1 minute. Pour black beans, corn, tomatoes, and water in the pot and stir to combine everything well and season with salt, to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cover.
Cook covered for 30 minutes, stirring gently every five minutes or so. Test the squash, if tender then you’re good to go, although this does benefit for sitting covered and warm for an hour or so and then re-heating when ready to eat.
For meat-lovers chorizo garnish: place diced chorizo in a dry pan heated over a medium-high heat. Let cook until the oils are released and the chorizo is deep golden brown. Scatter over individual bowlfuls along with any other garnishes desired.
Notes:

  • Butternut squash is particularly good for holding its shape. For tips on pealing and dicing your squash, here’s a Food52 video.
  • If I have leftover roasted squash on hand, I’ll use that instead – cut it into 1-inch chunks and add to the pot in the last 10 minutes of cooking.
  • If I can’t find chipotle peppers in Adobo (like when I’m in Australia) I use 2 tablespoons of smokey BBQ sauce.
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