As you may know my family recently cut back its meat consumption to almost none. I’ve been having a hard time giving up chicken, and we still eat fish, but other than that I haven’t had any red meat for quite some time now. If there’s one dish that displays my preference for vegetables over meat it would certainly be chili.
There is something really warm and comforting about a bowl of chili enjoyed on a snowy winter day. And unfortunately, we’re still having snowy winter days. While some people would argue that beans have no place in chili, this dish is based around just that. You might even fool some meat-eaters into being satisfied by this meat-free chili. My husband went so far as to ask me if there was meat in it!
I think my mother-in-law would be impressed with how far I’ve come with vegetables. When she first met me I had hardly eaten a vegetable in my life (hello, my name is Lindsay, and I’m a life-long picky eater). Meals consisted of meat and bread with maybe a brownie on the side. Ok, definitely a brownie on the side. While the brownie is still there, look at me, filling up on vegetables and getting rid of the meat.
You can be really flexible here. If you don’t like black beans, substitute pinto or use all kidney beans. I love the depth of flavor with the variety of vegetables and beans, but feel free to use what you’re comfortable with. If you absolutely need some meat in your meal, consider piling this on top of a hamburger and sprinkling it with fried onions. That was definitely a favorite back in my meat eating days.
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium or 2 small onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
One 28 ounce can diced tomatoes with their juice
One 16 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
One 16 ounce can cannellini or Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
One 16 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup tomato juice, more as needed
Cheddar cheese (optional)
Sour cream or plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the carrots, red pepper, green pepper, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until the onions are golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Add the jalapeno, chili powder, and cumin. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, kidney beans, cannellini beans, black beans, tomato juice, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally until the flavors are blended, about 45 minutes. If it begins to look too dry add more tomato juice or water as needed. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Ladle into bowls and serve with cheddar cheese and a dollop of sour cream, if desired.