Some would say real chili doesn’t contain beans.

I say real chili should send you soaring into the stratosphere (no helium balloon required) beans or not.

My goal was to get creative and make a spicy white bean chili with some usual and some off the beaten path ingredients.  The result was a decent tasting dish but I took my eye off the ball and it lacked what I like most about chili – a kick… and then some.

What changes could I have made?

I could have added some seeds of the serrano peppers or used one of my favorites, chipotle peppers, for added heat. Chipotle peppers (smoked dried jalapenos) retain their heat over a period of days and compliment the other flavors in the dish. The difficulty is in finding those peppers. In my neck of the woods, I have found the canned version in adobo sauce and a powdered version the only options available. Some adobo sauces contain chicken or turkey stock so make sure to read the label if you are vegan or vegetarian.

Garlic… I could have added a couple of cloves instead of just one, but I was “thinking outside the box” and didn’t want to rely too heavily on the typical ingredients. Foolish!

A heaping tablespoon… or two …or three of chili powder, (I like extra hot) would have greatly enhanced this dish as well. What was I thinking leaving that out?  More outside the box shenanigans, apparently!

And, a couple of other random thoughts…

There was no measurement of broccoli or cauliflower. I threw in an amount to my liking.  Any vegetable(s) can be substituted.  Include whatever veggies you enjoy eating.

Masa Harina, a flour from field corn (or maize) that is dried and then treated in a solution of lime and water, was used to thicken the sauce. I would not change this.

I made the vegan husband, technically a flexitarian (a word recently added to Webster’s dictionary meaning one who occasionally eats meat), a chicken version and he loved it!

Number of servings?  I don’t know…I lost track… seems to last forever (both versions) when you are the only one eating it!

Ingredients:
4 cups (about 16 oz dried) cooked navy beans with it’s juice
2 cups (about 8 oz dried) cooked kidney beans with 1 cup juice
1 onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
14.5 oz vegetable broth
28 oz diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
2 serrano chilis, seeded and diced
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
cauliflower, chopped
broccoli, chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp jalapeno powder
1 tbsp cilantro
3 tbsp masa harina

Directions:
If you are using dried beans, soak overnight and cook the next day on medium heat until softened. Separate the kidney beans from its juice. Add kidney beans and 1 cup of its juice to the white beans and all of its juice. If you are using canned beans, rinse beans and use extra vegetable broth or water about 5-8 cups depending on how thick you want your chili. This amount can be adjusted throughout the process of making the dish. Add remaining ingredients and cook on medium-low for two hours or until veggies are tender but not mushy.

What do you add to your chili to make it plant based-nutrient dense and yet different from the norm? Come on, give us your secrets! Please, leave a comment…

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