Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Chili In a Storm.

Easy soups you can feel good about eating.

Maybe it was the two feet of snow, and rather frigid temperature leaving me housebound Monday. The result was a hearty vegetarian chili (and cornbread, of course). By today, with the temperatures balmy in the 50’s (F) you might be expecting gazpacho. But instead, a favorite, unusual, tangy, spicy winter squash and chickpea delight was prepared. And in between, were a pureed root vegetable comfort soup and my Friday tradition of chicken soup with matzah balls.
It’s hard to decide which to cover in this post, and upcoming, posts. They are each so unique, and post worthy!

Okay, I suppose I’ll start with the chili, (though not technically a soup given how thick it is) because of its great taste and nutritional value. And, it’s a great excuse to  make cornbread.

The recipe was adapted (it’s hard to not add my own touches, you realize) from an old favorite vegetarian cookbook, Moosewood, by Mollie Katzen. It’s tattered, stained, with broken spine, having been used since I was 19! Perhaps my first cookbook ever, thanks to Rebecca who gave it to me in college, with whom I’m still friends!

What’s so great about chili?
Where shall I start?

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s cheap. High fiber. Vegetarian. Virtually no saturated fat. And did I mention it tastes good, too? And it’s quite satisfying, especially topped with some shredded cheese (and accompanied by a slice of cornbread). It also freezes well, so for those of you who are cooking for one or two, portion the leftovers into containers and serve it another day. Unlike the soups mentioned above, this recipe is more modest in size, making only 5-6 portions. Living alone? Just the two of you? It’s the perfect dish to freeze for another meal, with leftovers for lunch as well. (Thanks to RHA who requested "simple to prep, without exotic ingredients, to serve under 6 people". Sure hope you joined as a follower now!)

Chili in the Storm (serves 5-6)

2-3 Tbsps. oil (to sauté)
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 ½ cups chopped onion (2 large should do it)
1 cup chopped peppers (any color)
3 cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup raw bulgur wheat
1 cup water (or more if you prefer chili less thick)
1 can tomato paste
2 cans diced tomatoes, drained
4 large carrots, cut in thick slices
4 tsps. chili powder
3 ½ tsps cumin
4 tsps. oregano
cayenne to taste (beware—hot stuff!)
3 tbsps. red wine

In a large pot, heat oil and sauté onion and garlic until translucent.
Add carrots and peppers and cook until tender.
Add all remaining ingredients, stir, and cover.
Cook about 45 mins. Add additional water if desired.

Top with goat or shredded cheese, and serve with cornbread or a few tortilla chips.
Note: Chili can be made with low salt canned tomato products and beans, as well as dry beans to dramatically reduce the sodium. I use the canned strictly for a quick and easy meal, but if you are home on a stormy day, consider cooking dried beans according to package directions (use about 2 ½ cups dry beans, cooked, for this recipe). Texturally, it’s a whole other beast—but tastes just fine without!

Followers: Please email me along with your screen name for cornbread recipe!


  1. That weather looks horrendous! We have really bad flooding here (but thankfully much further north and not near where I live).
    Thanks so much for the cornbread recipe. I have never eaten it so I can't wait to try it out; although as it's so hot here I'm thinking of serving it up with some guacomole or salsa (perhaps - does this sound like it would go??)

  2. You can eat it all by itself--best with a drizzle of honey--and it's wonderful! As for the weather, it made for great snowshoeing!

  3. I had to google snowshoeing!! That looks like excellent fun!

  4. Funny what I take for granted! It's a ton of fun, and a great workout in a beautiful setting, going through the woods.

  5. Lori, could you please post the recipe for this cornbread? I have been wanting to make some for quite some time now. Thank you for your hard work

  6. Ok, here's the recipe for the Cornbread.
    ¾ cup cornmeal
    1 ½ cup flour
    2 Tbsps. sugar
    1 tsp baking soda
    ½ tsp. salt
    2 eggs, beaten
    1 ½ cups buttermilk (or 1 ½ cups low or nonfat milk plus 1 ½ Tbsp. white vinegar)
    ½ cup + 1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
    9 or 10-inch heavy skillet (iron skillet is ideal). Heavy aluminum works well. Non-stick not recommended, yet a heavy duty one still works okay. The issue here is texture—crispest with a heavy skillet.
    Heat oven to 425 F.
    Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
    Separately combine wet ingredients, including ½ cup oil.
    Add wet to dry ingredients.
    Heat pan stovetop with 1/4c oil. When hot, add the batter.
    Place in oven for 20-25 mins (shorter for larger size pan). Insert toothpick to test for doneness.
    Top with a drizzle of honey if desired. Feeling creative? Add some shredded cheddar or jalapenos for a kick. Serve with chili.