Tonight was the grand gala opening/unveiling of Jim's show at the Ladybug, and of course I couldn't attend such an event without food in tow. This vegan chili (vegan, anyway, until you sprinkle cheese overtop) was the dish of choice.
Should have doubled it. It was gone before 50% of the guest list had arrived. Whoops!
You can tell I'm not vegan because I think the ultimate compliment for a vegan dish is "Whoa, I had no idea this was vegan." Which I heard more than once tonight. Take that as you will–preferably with a sprinkling of flavorful dairy products.
I-Can't-Believe-It's-Not-Not-Vegan Vegan Chili
Served not nearly enough in tonight's iteration, so I'm doubling the quantities for you. This would freeze beautifully, were there to be enough left over to warrant freezing.
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 small onions, chopped
2 small red bell peppers, chopped
1 ancho chile, seeded, ribbed (or de-ribbed, whatev, see yesterday's post) and chopped
2 Tbsp ancho chile powder, which is different from "chili powder"* and is probably available for very little money in the "Hispanic Foods" aisle of your local megalomart
1 Tbsp cumin
1-1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 cloves garlic, minced
Either 4 cups cooked beans, OR (which will actually be better): 2 cans EACH pinto beans, rinsed and drained AND S&W Southwest Style beans (with corn and seasoned sauce), undrained–if you can't find these, which you may well not be able to, use "chili beans," undrained
2 cans EACH regular diced tomatoes AND diced tomatoes with chiles
Garnishes, not all of which are (duh) vegan: shredded cheddar or jack cheese (better yet: crumbled queso fresco); diced avocado; crisp-cooked and crumbled corn tortillas; chopped fresh cilantro
Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onions, bell peppers and ancho chile and cook, stirring occasionally** until onions are translucent. Add chile powder, cumin, salt and pepper; reduce heat and cook, stirring frequently, a few minutes more, or until everything smells toasty and delicious and looks sort of dry. Add garlic; cook, stirring, 30 seconds to 1 minute more. Don't let the garlic burn. You've worked too hard to arrive at this point to let something as preventable as scorched garlic stop you now.
Add beans and tomatoes. Bring just to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered, stirring up from the bottom occasionally, for about an hour.
At this point you can either serve the chili forth with your choice of garnishes, or you can do as I did. Dump it into a Crock-Pot (or slow cooker of your choice), set it to "Keep Warm," and let your guests serve themselves as they like. Any leftovers can be cooled, frozen and served on some day that you don't feel like making soup. What sort of a day would that be? I have no idea. I am totally in this for the long haul.
* The short version: "Chili powder" is made of a variety of dried, powdered chiles, plus additional seasonings (usually cumin) and salt. "Chile powder" is made of dried, powdered chiles, either singly or in tandem.
** Here, I really do mean "occasionally" and not "constantly." Leaving the aromatics to their own devices for awhile allows them to brown a bit and develop a gorgeous gutsy depth of flavor.