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!

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

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…