Sometimes, a bowl of chili is what you need to make you feel warm and fuzzy inside. I am entirely serious – certain foods have that kind of effect on people. They’re called comfort foods. But usually the term ‘comfort food’ is associated with food that is greasy (fried in cheap rancid oils) or unhealthy – basically food that will make you anything but comfortable later on. Not so with my version of comfort food – which takes nutritional content into consideration … You do want to be in good health, don’t you?
I try to make comfort food much healthier so that I’m able to actually enjoy it during and (more importantly) after the meal is over. For example, instead of greasy boardwalk fries – a quintessential ‘comfort food’ for many people – I prefer making my own fries at home, either fried on the stove or even better, roasted in the oven with naturally-flavored salt or paprika. But what brought fries into this discussion … I was talking about chili! (Just like me to bring up my love for fries in any discussion related to comfort food, haha).
The other day I decided to experiment a bit with the dried red kidney beans I had lying around at home. I also had a large red bell pepper that I wanted to use for an interesting, new recipe (though I included a few fresh pieces in a salad). I also had fresh parsley that I wanted to use up soon before it goes bad. Basically, I wanted to just mix all the forsaken ingredients in one glorious recipe. Luckily for me, I was able to think of a recipe that included all of the above, where all the ingredients complemented each other well! (I have been known to add random ingredients to a recipe just to make sure nothing goes to waste … not always the best idea – poor Sherif has had to deal with a lot of my “innovations” – but sometimes this experimentation and resourcefulness works to my advantage). I got pretty lucky with this vegetarian chili recipe!
Vegetarian Chili with Red Kidney Beans and Red Peppers
Prep Time: soaking overnight + 10 minutes
Cook Time: 3 hours
Keywords: boil saute simmer soup/stew gluten-free nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian red kidney beans red pepper parsley Orthodox Christian Fasts fall spring winter
- 1 cup dried red kidney beans, soaked overnight in filtered water with a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons grass-fed organic ghee or extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
- 5-6 cloves of fresh garlic, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 3/4 large organic red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/3 jalapeño pepper, seeded and diced (optional – use only if you like it spicy)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh Italian or curly parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon dried or fresh oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 200 grams (6 tablespoons) organic tomato paste (preferably in a glass jar)
- 4-5 cups filtered water, boiled
- 1 teaspoon of gluten-free asafoetida powder (for de-gassing the beans – optional)
- unrefined salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- freshly squeezed lime juice (add to individual plates)
- tiny pinch of cayenne pepper (only add this after cooking, on individual plates, can get pretty spicy)
(1) Prepare the beans. Soak red kidney beans overnight in an acidic medium. Then, drain, rinse and add to large pot. Add 2 cups of water and some asafoetida powder and bring to a boil. Then, turn to medium-low heat and cook for an hour and half to two hours till soft. Add more boiled water if the liquid runs low throughout cooking.
(2) Prepare chili concoction. While the beans are cooking, warm a tablespoon of ghee (or olive oil) in a separate large pot over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds. Add the chopped onions and garlic, and once translucent and fragrant, add the red peppers, jalapeño pepper, oregano, and cinnamon. Sauté over medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring continuously. Turn off heat and wait for beans to cook.
(3) Boil filtered water. Bring several cups of water to a boil in a teapot or separate pot.
(4) Mix the beans into the chili mixture. Drain the beans and add them to the mixture above, saute for a minute and then add enough of the boiled water to cover the mixture. Mix in 6 tablespoons of tomato paste, and stir until well incorporated. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes or so until the flavors have incorporated thoroughly and the sauce has thickened a bit.
(5) Adjust thickness of soup. If mixture becomes too thick, add some more boiled water to lighten it up.
(6) Add parsley, salt and pepper. Just before turning off the heat, add some fresh chopped parsley to the soup and mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Keep boiling for a couple of minutes and turn off the heat.
(7) Add more condiments to individual plates. Right before serving, add fresh lemon or lime juice, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and more salt, pepper and olive oil — all according to taste.
Though it seems a bit involved, it’s really a very easy recipe. You just have to find a hobby to learn while the beans cook, as they take a while. Then come back and mix in with the rest of the ingredients, and … tada, you’ll be done with the meal and ready to gobble it all up. Now, this is what I call satisfying and healthy comfort food! It’s also perfect for the Lenten fast – full of plant protein and vegetables to keep you full and happy.
Also, it’s great to make a big pot of this and simply reheat for the following few days. That’s what Sherif and I did. I found that it keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days. Makes a yummy lunch too! Bon apetit!
This post has been shared on Easy Natural Food’s Sunday Soup Night.