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Really Simple Vegan Black Bean Chili from Scratch
Although comfort food takes many forms, it's safe to say that most comfort food is not the kind of thing you'd want to put in your body on a daily basis. Even vegan comfort food has its bad actors. Happy to say that this vegan black bean chili gives me all the "mmmm" with none of the guilt. The key seems to be starting with dry beans instead of canned. After an overnight soak and a six-hour stretch in the slow cooker, the beans are tender but their skins are still largely intact.
Black beans have a lot going for them nutritionally, with essentially the same amounts of fiber and protein by weight, plus reasonable amounts of magnesium and iron. I realize that red kidney beans are more traditional in chili, but I'm a fan of the black turtle beans. (If you're tempted to switch to dry red kidney beans, make sure you adjust the preparation process to eliminate the possibility of poisoning by phytohaemagglutinin. Even a few kidney beans prepared improperly can make you violently ill. An ounce of prevention...)
The kick in this chili comes from chipotle powder. A little goes a long way. The recipe as written has noticeable but pleasant heat, but you may want to dial it back if you're making it for kids. Other than the chipotle and a few other spices, the chili is really really simple. An onion, a few cloves of garlic and a large can of diced tomatoes is all it takes to give it rich flavour.
I make this in a 6-quart crockpot. After the overnight soak, it takes about 6 hours on the high setting. After the 6 hours, the crockpot automatically switches to a "warm" mode. I don't mind leaving it that way for a few more hours to let the flavours continue to mingle.
The final thing I love about this recipe is the pricetag. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that this recipe can be made for about eight bucks, but yields four generous, meal-sized bowls. You can do a lot worse than $2 for a healthy, satisfying winter meal.
2 cups dry black beans
1 tsp chipotle powder
1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
3 Tbl olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced with a little salt
28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
2 tsp salt
Soak the beans in a large bowl of water for at least 8 hours.
Drain the beans, discarding the water, and rinse them well. Put the beans and 4 cups of fresh water in a large slow cooker along with the chipotle powder, cumin, paprika and oregano. Set the slow cooker on high for 6 hours.
At about the 5 hour mark, heat the olive oil in a skillet on medium heat. Add the onion and fry for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and fry for an additional 5 minutes. Add the contents of the frying pan to the slow cooker. Also add the can of tomatoes, including the liquid.
Just before the 6 hours is up, add the salt.
After the cooking time is finished, leave the slow cooker on "warm" until you're ready to eat. You can leave it for a few hours this way, and the flavour only improves with time.
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Posted: Saturday, January 30, 2016