Mixed Pepper Chili
This May will mark the 7 year anniversary of my move to California and my relationship with Michael. It’s really unbelievable to me that I’ve been living out here on the West (Best) Coast for so long. What started out as a fun adventure has turned into a new, comfortable way of life.
Naturally, I do most of the cooking in our house these days, but Michael is an excellent cook as well. And I can distinctly remember the first meal that he ever made for me: Veggie Chili (an apt if not inspired name). We still laugh about it today. Not because the chili was bad, but because my preconceived notions of a vegetarian chili were so far off. Having a strong affection for my mother’s traditional beef chili, I couldn’t find room in my head to entertain the idea that this chili, featuring peppers and beans, could possibly compete. But compete it did, hitting all those familiar chili notes in a new and delicious way.
It seems only fitting then, that the first recipe I share on this blog is an evolution of Michael’s original Veggie Chili.
This Mixed Pepper Chili is cozy like a warm blanket. I just want to wrap myself up in it and hunker down on a cold day. The combination of peppers – bell, poblano, and jalapeño – add subtle sweetness and a low, even heat. The pinto beans make the chili hearty and filling. And the mix of seasonings produces a sauce with a rich depth of flavor and complex spice. This chili has a special place in my heart, and I’m so happy to share it with you. It’s perfect for game day or any day!
This recipe is featured in the following menus: Game Day Chili Menu
- 3 16-ounce cans pinto beans, with liquid
- 28-ounce can petite diced tomatoes, with juices
- 1 red bell pepper
- 2 poblano peppers
- 3 jalapeño chile peppers
- 1 large yellow onion
- 8 medium garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Optional Toppings
- Sour Cream*
- Cilantro, minced
- Green onions, chopped
- *I have yet to perfect a plant-based sour cream recipe, but here are some options: Rouxbe, Gluten Free Vegan Pantry, The Blender Girl.
- Open cans and separate beans.
- Before things get rolling, it's a good idea to open the canned goods that will be added later and have them ready by the stove. Open the beans, and strain the liquid from the cans into a small bowl or measuring cup. You should have around 1½ to 2 cups total liquid. Add the beans to a large bowl. Open the diced tomatoes and set aside. If your tomato paste is canned, open that too.
- Prepare and cook the vegetables.
- Slice all of the peppers in half lengthwise from stem to stem. Remove the stem, ribs and seeds. If you like a spicier chili, you can reserve and add some of the jalapeño seeds, which is where most of the heat is concentrated. (I like to wear gloves when handling the jalapeños so that none of the heat transfers to my skin.) Chop the bell and poblano peppers into approx. ½-inch to ¾-inch dice and add to a large bowl. Finely dice enough of the jalapeños to equal ½ cup and add to the bowl.
- Set a large, heavy pot (preferably a dutch oven) over medium heat. Meanwhile, chop the onion into approx. ¼-inch to ½-inch dice and add to the bowl with the peppers. Press the garlic and add to the bowl, making sure to process the leftover pressed garlic through a second time.
- Coat the bottom of the pot with 2 tablespoons olive oil, and add the peppers, onions, and garlic to the pot, stirring to coat with oil. Saute, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened and the liquid is evaporated, about 10-12 minutes.
- Prepare and cook the spice mix.
- While the vegetables are cooking, measure the spices (chili powder to cayenne) into a small bowl. Stir to combine.
- When the vegetables are ready, add the spice mix to the pot along with ½ teaspoon salt. Stir to coat the vegetables and cook for 1 minute until the spices are fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes and liquids.
- To the pot, stir in the tomato paste, and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes (along with their juice) and the liquid from the beans. Pour in 2 cups of water and give everything a good stir.
- Cook the chili. For a while.
- Increase the heat to medium high and bring the chili up to a boil. Once boiling, cover the pot, turn the heat down to medium low (about a level 2), and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover, add the beans, and top the pot with a splatter screen. Continue to simmer, adjusting heat as necessary, for 60 to 70 minutes - until chili has thickened and flavor has developed. Taste and add 1 to 1½ teaspoons of salt and cook 5 minutes more to blend flavors.
- Ladle the chili into bowls. Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of cilantro and/or green onions.
- Make-ahead and storage notes.
- The flavors of the chili are even better the next day, so this is a great dish to make a day or two ahead. Reheat and bring to a simmer before serving, adding water if needed should chili become too thick. Continue to enjoy leftovers for days.
- Chili also freezes well. Transfer cooled chili into freezer-safe storage containers, leaving a little space under the lid for expansion as it freezes.