Catastrophe Chili

  • 5 cans of beans (I use 3 black / 2 red kidney.  You could also use chick peas, etc., and/or the equivalent volume of dried beans prepared according to their instructions)
  • 3 cans of diced tomatoes (Or the equivalent of fresh tomatoes… I’m guessing 12-15 romas, roughly chopped)
  • 3 granny smith apples, grated (in a food processor or on a cheese grater)
  • 2 medium to large onions, whatever type you like
  • 1 small can of chipotle peppers en adobo, blended/processed
  • 1 head of garlic, peeled and crushed (or less/more, to taste) (Lately I’ve been smashing each clove with the back of a knife, removing the skin, and just throwing it in whole.  When it’s crushed well like that, the flavor will penetrate the whole dish, and it’s OK and not overwhelming to eat the whole clove.  Or, you can chop them up.)
  • Optional:
    • chopped celery (optional, but recommended. 0-5 ribs, depending on how much you want to cut the heat of the chipotles), grated carrots, more hot peppers, bell peppers, barley or bulgur wheat, TVP or other veg protein… use your imagination!

In a BAP (Big Ass Pot), brown the onions and garlic (and celery/extra peppers, if you’re doing that) in olive oil.  When you get some good browning happening, make a hot spot at the bottom of the pot (push the onions aside, maybe add a pad of butter) and add the apples (and carrots, if you’re doing those) for just a couple minutes.  Make a hot spot again (no oil/butter needed) and add the blended/processed chipotles, just to let them bloom for a minute.  Add the tomatoes, give them a few minutes to bloom/reduce (especially if using fresh tomatoes), then add the beans.  Simmer for as long as you like, add any final spices you like (cumin seed, Mexican oregano, hot sauce, salt if needed).

I add a shake or two of salt at every step, so by the end, you shouldn’t need much, if any, additional salt.

You can serve it with crackers, popcorn, rice, crusty bread, veggies & dip, etc.  Garnish options: sharp cheddar, cilantro, fine-chopped onion, green onion…

A bold dose of cinnamon in a bowl of this chili will take it in a completely different direction.

* Updated 29 Oct 2012

Sweet and Sour Winter Veggie Soup

Chopped or sliced:

  • Parsnips
  • Turnips
  • Carrots
  • White onion
  • Snow peas
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Radishes

(Use any combination and any amount, to your taste)

Throw the chopped/sliced veggies in a B.A.P.*; cover with vegetable broth and a good shot of olive oil.

Season with fresh rosemary and equal parts balsamic vinegar and maple syrup (use plenty!), and salt if necessary.

Simmer until cooked; about an hour. I like to add chopped mushrooms at the end.

*Big Ass Pot

Jill's Tortilla Soup

I freely adapted this soup from Rick Bayless’ recipe when I needed to put something together for friends in a hurry. There were leftover corn tortillas in the fridge that night, so that’s what I use; if you have leftover chips, that’s good too. Black beans and mushrooms have replaced shredded chicken. This is a staple, and a favorite; every ingredient is something I almost always have around (you can even freeze the bagged avocado and keep it!).

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 cans black beans

2 cans vegetable broth

1 small can tomato sauce

1 large white onion, chopped

peppers – (I like to roast a few jalapenos or banana pappers over an open flame, then peel off the blackened skin and seed them. But you could also use roasted peppers from a jar, or chopped bell peppers, or another pepper flavor.)

1 package of mushrooms (white, or something more interesting.)

Leftover tortillas and/or tortilla chips

Shredded medium cheddar cheese

Avocados / guacamole (either cubed avocados, or in the processed-bagged form you can usually find in the deli section)

Extra virgin olive oil, Tobasco, cumin, Crazy Jane salt

Blend your pepper ingredient with the diced tomatoes. Put it and the veggie broth, tomato sauce, chopped onion, and black beans in a soup pot and cook (make it bubble lightly) for 15 minutes. While it’s cooking, season with a good shot of olive oil, as much Tobasco as you like (me = 15-20 drops, probably), plenty of cumin, and some Crazy Jane salt. If you’re entertaining, get to this step before the party starts; you can begin again from here at any time.

Put the mushrooms into the soup pot and cook for 5-10 minutes more.

To serve: put tortilla/chips in the bottom of a bowl, then ladle soup over it. Add a generous bit of cheese and the cubed avocado/guacamole on top.