Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Meatless Monday...On Wednesday

I don't know about your neck of the woods, but around here it has gotten cold and misty.  I do hope that spring blossoming shortly, but for now I'm cooking cold weather food one more time.

My mom makes some of the best soups around, and one of my favorites is her chili.  Unfortunately, most of the time chili involves beef, so once I went veg, I needed to come up with a chili that was still comforting and delicious, but didn't lose its heart.  This is absolutely nothing like the traditional chili my husband grew up with, so I suppose you could call it something between a chili & a tex-mex soup.  Here's what I came up with...

1 64 oz can of tomato or mixed vegetable (V8 type) juice  (I usually prefer mixed because its a great way to get the nutrients of some veggies that I don't eat on a daily basis, but I only had tomato on hand).
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans
1 can corn
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can tomatoes with green chilies
* Optional, but in my opinion FABULOUS--1 can El Pato (more on this later)
2 cups of cooked brown rice

Spices can be adjusted 1 teaspoon-1 tablespoon depending on your personal heat preference, but I'm a pepper belly and I LOVE it HOT!

1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper


While you're prepping the other ingredients start cooking your rice; either in a rice cooker or on the stove top.
You can cook brown rice in a rice maker!  Who knew?  Just add 2 cups & 2 tbsp of water per cup of rice
 In a large pot open the can of juice.  Most juice tends to separate, so be sure to shake the can once or twice.  Add that to the pot, then add the crushed tomatoes with their juices, the tomatoes & chilies with their juices, & the El Pato. Set on medium heat and allow the flavors to incorporate.


*  A note about El Pato--In my opinion El Pato is spicy heaven in a can.  My handsome husband introduced it to me way back when he was my handsome manfriend.  It is super spicy & super delicious.  More stores nationwide are carrying it, so look for it in your Latin food aisle.  In Indiana I found it in Kroger, here I found it in Walmart & Harps.

Next, you will need to drain & rinse your beans.


**Green  Living Freak Alert:  I like to save water, so this is how I open the cans...
 Drain your kidney & your black beans, then drain your corn over the beans.  Then, use the water from rinsing out all of your cans & pour over your beans.  After rinsing your cans & the water from the corn, the brine from the beans should be washed away, without you needing to use any extra water.  If this is too OCD for you, just drain & rinse the beans.

Once all of the beans & corn are rinsed add them to the pot.  Add in all of your seasonings; I have to admit that I don't precisely measure, I usually just go around the top of the pot & make sure everything is covered.  (Extremely exact, huh?)  If that doesn't work for you, you can measure with your palm, ala Rachael Ray, or use measuring spoons.  I would warn you to wash your hands if you measure the cayenne with your palm!

After 15 minutes I like to taste and then adjust seasonings.  From here it is your call when you add the rice.  When using brown you don't run the risk of it getting as mushy as white rice, so you can add it earlier.  I personally like the rice to thicken the soup, so I don't mind if it isn't a perfect grain, but the choice is entirely yours.  Also, if you want a complete protein be sure to use the rice, it really makes this a healthful, meat free dish.

 Allow the soup to simmer & come together.  Like any soup, the longer you allow the flavors to develop the more delicious the soup is, but if you're in a hurry, you just want to make sure that everything is heated through.  It will be even more delicious after sitting in the fridge over night, I promise!

 I love to eat this over a tofu pup.  Even if you're not a big tofu eater, with this chili over a soy dog, it is bliss in a bun.
And if I can get my meat eating husband to try it, you know it must be good!  

I also like eat it as a quick burrito.  Just drain off the juices with a slotted spoon, plop on a tortilla, sprinkle with cheese, and maybe some sour cream.  Yum!

It is also awesome over a baked potato...I mean, seriously awesome.

In college I used to make this, eat off it for a week, and then freeze the remainder.  If you don't have a large family to feed, or want to make a double batch this is a fabulous option.  I also find that sometimes when I get down to the end of the pot there's a lot of extra juice left, but not a lot of substance.  I just pour it into a little container & freeze it for the next batch of chili.  It adds a lot of flavor & eliminates waste.

Hope you enjoy.  Happy Eating!

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