Aunt Janet's Vegetarian Chili

I'm dedicating the next few posts to the wonderful world of soup.

However, I'm not a fan of the word "soup." It seems so...well, soupy.

The noun itself sounds meak and needy. And why shouldn't it? Soup is what we go to when we are feeble, when we need liquids, not solids, when we can't hold down substance or flavor--when we feel like vomiting.

Sorry, didn't mean to get graphic there.

But really, who would want to eat "souuuup" on a regular basis?

Yuck, not me.

However I LOVE it. And thus have begun to use Rachael Ray's clever word, Stoup, because it encapsulates a little more umph, a lot more flavor, that extra muscle the loathesome noun craves. "Stoup" isn't as hearty and dense as a stew, yet substantial enough to make the meal sound appealing.
Yes, stoup will do just fine.

So, I will refer to each of the following concotions as such, because, well...soup just doesn't cut it.

In addition to being stick-to-your-ribs yummy. Stoup is also one of the easiest, most economical ways to cook for a large group of people, or for your little family--thus retaining leftovers. In fact, I make a big batch of at least one stoup per week. Last week's stoup will be revealed in the next post. I do this for multiple reasons, but one of those being it's a quick, simple way for me to have an instant meal, on hand, when I don't feel like cooking. And yes, there are many nights where I just don't feel like it.

Shocking, I know. I'm human. I never said I was Martha, people.

Not only does stoup save time, it saves money.  Stoup utilizes a small amount of meat, and a larger amount of cost-effective goods (legumes, vegetables). I very often add beans in place of meat/chicken for the extra protein and fiber. However, since my husband is of the need-at-least-some-meat-to-survive sort I often throw a little shredded chicken or stew beef chunks in there to appease his mind. It's the best of both worlds. He gets a bit of meat (which he likes) with a lot of veggies (which I like).
A very compatible meal, indeed.

Today's stoup hails from the wonderful town of New Paltz. Remember it? Please say you do, I dedicated
two hours of my life sharing, drafting, editing, and revealing this beautiful village to you last week.

Anytime I devote two hours of my busy, time-is-of-the-essence life to something you better darn well know it must be good.

And New Paltz is. And so is this stoup.

I partook (is that a word?) in this delightful dish while visiting. Aunt Janet and Uncle Jim are vegetarians in the strictest sense. In fact, many New Paltzians are herbivores, not a wan breed of tofu-ians, but rather vegetable extraordinaires who are passionate about the potential of soil and seed. Remember the sprout man?:

Really, it's a calling.

Thus, Janet and Jim have lived their lives creating fabulous meals from a variety of seasonal, hearty, sustainable
produce. So when Janet mentioned we'd be having her vegetarian chili the first evening of my stay, I was absolutely thrilled.

Like, pee-my-pants thrilled. Yes, I tend to overly enjoy my veggies--that, or I drink too much coffee.


I anxiously awaited the meal, giddy with excitement at what it might entail (she didn't reveal any details until
the dinner itself) was a looooong few hours. Not to mention the smells coming out of the kitchen. I nearly
couldn't contain myself. And then, out she came:

And, Oh. My. Word.

Loved it. Loved it, loved it, loved it. Have I mentioned I LOVED it?

I very nearly kissed the pot. But that would have been weird and I'm not like that.


I was very nearly about to ask for a bowl to start dishing (and devouring) but noticed Uncle Jim passing out plates instead.

What? Plates? Doesn't chili involve bowls?

Not in this family, apparently.

Check out this festive tableware:

No, siree. We put that hearty blend of deliciousness (is that a word? It should be) over rice and topped with just about anything and everything that you might imagine. Think, sour cream, fresh greens, guacamole, salsa, cheese...oh my. Have I ever shared my love affair with cheese? I'm certain that obsession is bound to rear it's ugly head in the near future.   Just wait for it.

Anyway, this stuff was good. Lacking in nothing. Meat? Who the heck needs it.  Really.

Aunt Janet's Vegetarian Chili

1-3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 medium white onions, diced
2-4 Cloves garlic, minced
1 Cup diced peppers – red, yellow, green
1-2 Cups corn kernels (fresh or frozen)
4-5 Cups Tomato Sauce
½ Cup assorted sliced mushrooms
1-2 Cups assorted other veggies of your choice (spinach, chopped carrots, etc)
4 Cups of cooked black beans
1-2 Cups cooked kidney beans
1 Cup garbanzo beans
2 Cups refried black beans
2-3 Cups of your choice of Textured Protein (aka vegan ground protein, found at your local organic foods store)
Suggested spices: chili powder, cumin, cayenne, garlic and onion, dash of cinnamon, lime (use at your own discretion, or, if you want to save time/energy, you can use 1-2 packets taco seasoning).

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. In a large pot with lid, sauté diced onions, garlic, pepper, corn, mushrooms, other veggies of choice and textured protein in a few teaspoons of olive oil. Once the onions and veggies are glistening but still crisp, add about a cup of tomato sauce, stir and continue to simmer another 5-10 minutes. Then stir in cooked beans, corn, spices and continue to heat on lowest heat for another 10 minutes. If you like your chili thicker, add more beans. If you want it less thick, add more tomato sauce.  Stir often to avoid sticking.
3. When ingredients seem well mixed and at your favorite consistency, pour or scoop all ingredients into a large baking dish. (I prefer round and use my old ceramic crock pot).  Place in preheated oven 20 min or so to marry the ingredients.  Serve over brown or basmati rice with a variety of toppings. Spritz lime over the whole mixture.

Note:  If you plan to serve the next day (it tastes fabulous the longer it sits!), take out of the oven after ½ hour and let cool, then refrigerate overnight. The next day, un-refrigerate about ½ hour. While the chili is adjusting from refrigerator to room temperature, pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees. Bake for another 30-45 minutes until hot. Check and stir after 30 minutes to see if the chili is at a uniformed temperature you want.

Other thoughts from Janet: The extra veggies and how one spices depends on the taste of you and your guests. I prefer very little oil, lots of garlic, heavy on the cumin and enough cayenne so that the chili has a kick to it. Some folks do not like the taste of onion coming through nor do they like mushrooms. Some folks like it more or less spicy and more or less garlic-y.

Go make yourself some. It will change your life. Or maybe, quite possibly, change you into veggiophile.

Yes, that's my own adjective. Shakespeare created words, as does Rachael Ray, why can't I?

I don't see why not.

Did you know "EVOO" is now in the dictionary?  Just sayin', people.  You too can be famous.

Go enjoy yourself some produce. And stoup.  And make up some words while you're at it.

I'm all about cheap thrills.


Alli said...

Sounds yummy!

My veggie chili includes a kilo (dry) of your choice of beans, green and red bell peppers, corn, bulghar wheat, tomatoes, onions and garlic, as well as chili powder and cumin. Some of those other spices sound fantastic, though, I'm going to have to add them to mine and give it a try!

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