Chunky Vegetable Chili

My favorite recipe this week was my adaptation of chunky vegetable chili.  I originally found a recipe for vegetable chili on BettyCrocker.com and then adapted it to fit our tastes.  This is a hearty meal and very filling.  The fun thing about this dish is that you can substitute fresh, frozen or canned vegetables and you can mix up the vegetables to whatever you have on hand.  I like to stock up on canned tomatoes and canned beans (the two primary ingredients) when they are on sale so that I always have the base of this dish around for a quick dinner.

If you like meat in your chili, like my husband, you can always add half a pound to a pound of ground beef, ground turkey, or whatever else floats your boat in the meat department.  Just brown the beef (or whatever you are using) until it is cooked, but not dried out.  I like to add 1-2 tbls of chili powder to the beef and cook for an extra minute or two after I have drained the grease off.  It adds a little more flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (28 ou) diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (28 ou) whole tomatoes
  • water (1 28 ou can worth, plus about half a cup)
  • 2 cups corn (frozen, canned or cut fresh off the cob; if using canned, be sure to drain)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans
  • 1 can light red kidney beans
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped to desired size (I like them about the size of a dime, or smaller)
  • 1 green, yellow or red pepper (I think yellow has the best flavor, but any will work), chopped to desired size (I like them about the size of a nickel)
  • 2 – 3 cups fresh green beans (or 1-2 cans, or 1-2 cups frozen), rinsed, ends taken off and snapped into 1 1/2 – 2 1/2 inch size pieces
  • 1 zucchini, chopped to bite size pieces (not too small or they lose their firmness and texture when cooking)
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • 2 tbls chili powder, or to taste
  • 2-3 dashes cumin, or to taste
  • couple dashes of dried basil, or to taste
  • 2 gloves minced garlic, or to taste
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Other ingredients that I use from time to time are: fresh or frozen spinach, frozen collard greens, potatoes, or other vegetables I have on hand

Instructions:

  1. Melt butter in large cooking pot or dutch oven.  Cook chopped onions over medium heat for several minutes until brown and nearly caramelized.  Add chopped peppers and minced garlic and cook over medium heat for a couple more minutes.
  2. Turn heat to high and add canned diced tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes, water (fill one empty can of tomatoes with water and pour into pot), corn, chili powder, cumin, and basil.  Stir and bring to boil.  Once boiling, add all beans and zucchini.
  3. In small bowl or measuring cup, mix about half a cup of water with 2 tsp of corn starch.  Make sure corn starch is no longer lumpy, then add to chili pot.  Stir and continue cooking over medium heat until zucchini is cooked through, usually between 5 and 10 minutes.
  4. Total cook time is between 20 and 30 minutes.  Chili can be served as soon as zucchini is cooked, or you can let the chili simmer on low for up to several hours.  Though this isn’t as healthy because it cooks a lot of the nutrients out of the vegetables, it is very tasty.  A variation would be to add everything except the zucchini and let it cook for however long you’d like, then add the zucchini 10-15 minutes before you want to serve the dish.

Note: this dish can also be made in a crock pot and cooked throughout the day.  Again, you can put all the ingredients in together or you can add the zucchini about half an hour or so to the crock pot before you want to serve the chili.

This dish can be served by itself, with various cheeses (cheddar, Parmesan, etc.), with cornbread or in Parmesan bread bowls (I like adding basil and/or other herbs when making the bread bowls).

If you try this recipe, let me know what you think!  And let me know if you try a variation because I would love to try it too!

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