Isn’t it weird when your tastes start to change? As someone who has gone through life adamantly disliking chipotle peppers for their smoky flavor, as well as less passionately (but still steadfastly) relegating all varieties of chili to the boring school cafeteria domain, this recipe is a bit out of character. But I really like it!
It all started when I remembered a squash tamale recipe I made once with my college roommate – it called for chipotle peppers and I had begged her to leave them out. Miraculously, despite the fruitlessness of my persuasion efforts, I ended up loving the tamales. I had puzzled over it for a day, and then promptly forgot – returning instead to my religious dislike of all things chipotle. Until I got a mysterious craving for those tamales – more specifically, for the characteristic deep and slightly smoky flavor of the chipotle peppers. So, against my better judgment, I went out and bought some dried chipotle, threw it in a pot with some beans, veggies, and tomatoes, and let the simmer setting do its magic.
And once again, I liked it! Was it a fluke? It appears not. I’ve now made this chili three times, and I’ve liked it each and every time.
This isn’t a cafeteria chili. It’s a rich, flavorful, and filling one pot meal that managed to convert a chili skeptic to a chili advocate. The chipotle adds a subtle smokiness that mostly comes across as depth – it is not the dominant flavor but it also somehow makes the dish.
A couple notes about the recipe:
-This recipe calls for 1/2 a dried chipotle pepper as well as some cayenne. Depending on the heat of the pepper and your own spice preferences, you can choose to use all, none, or some of the seeds.
-This recipe serves 3-5: 3 by itself and 5 if you serve it with gluten-free cornbread (recipe coming soon!)
Easy Vegetarian Chili
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 cups diced onion (about 1 large Spanish onion)
- ½ a dried chipotle pepper, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ½ teaspoon hot paprika
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
- 3 cups (total) carrots and sweet potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 15-oz cans beans (I used one pinto and one black) or about 3 cups cooked beans
- 1 28-oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
- 1½ cups water
- Sour cream and avocado to serve (optional but delicious!)
Heat the oil in a large stockpot. Add the onion and cook for about 3 minutes until starting to soften. Add the chipotle, cumin, cayenne, hot paprika, oregano, and salt, and continue cooking for 8-10 minutes, until the onion is nice and soft. Add the carrots and sweet potatoes and cook for a couple minutes, stirring to coat them in the onion/oil mixture. Add the beans, tomatoes, and water, bring to a boil, then lower the heat and keep at a generous simmer for 30 minutes, until the carrots and sweet potatoes are cooked through and the flavors have melded. Serve!