Admittedly I am biased since I made it, but this was an EPIC chili, hence the title. Smoky, spicy, depth of flavor for days...AND completely vegetarian. Yay me! Not to mention the inclusion of three kinds of pulse, carrots, eggplant, lacinato kale and Kuri squash for additional portions of your recommended seven-a-day...Which isn't to say that this would not be sublime with the addition of bacon, or a ham hock, or chunks of kielbasa or chorizo...And, for those of you who are cat lovers, I must share that the spice mix that he could smell on my hands after I assembled the chili, made one of the cats positively uxorious!
The nice thing about this is that, though I have provided a base recipe below, you will be able to adapt it to whatever vegetables you have on hand to use, or to your favorite beans -- dried or canned. or add more or less garlic than I did, or adjust the heat, etc. Just adjust cooking times accordingly so that your beans are cooked through.
Also, contrary to my usual recipes for one, this makes a VAT of chili (AKA eight generous servings), but I have several friends visiting in the weeks to come and it is nice to have some freezer items for the times when one is out all day marsh-walking or exploring and too tired to eat out or make a proper dinner. This chili will more than do for those occasions!
3 cups assorted beans (I used a mix of turtle beans, split peas and lentils as I am doing a pulse clear-out.)
2 carrots, diced small
1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a mixture of red, yellow and spring onion, this time for fridge clear-out purposes)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups cooked pumpkin/squash/sweet potato, cooked and cut into bite-sized pieces (I had Kuri squash to use, but think that sweet potato would work very well here)
1 eggplant, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 bunch kale or your favorite greens, roughly chopped
1 cup tomato puree
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 Tbsps American chili powder
2 tsps dried oregano
1 Tbsp smoked paprika
2 tsps coriander
2 tsps cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsps cocoa powder
Hot sauce to taste (I used a tablespoon of green hot sauce)
1 Tbsp olive or vegetable oil
Salt to taste
The night before you are going to make the chili, place your dry beans in a large bowl of water in the fridge. You do not need to do this for split peas or lentils as they cook quite quickly.
The next day, rinse your rehydrated beans and set aside.
Add the oil to a large stock pot and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the carrots, onion, garlic and all of the spices and cook, stirring from time to time, for five minutes, until the onions are starting to soften and turn translucent.
Add your turtle beans and stir to combine. Add six cups of water and a half teaspoon of salt to the pan. Lower the heat, cover partially and allow to cook for one hour, stirring from time to time and adding more water, half a cup at a time, if the beans are absorbing a lot of it.
Add the eggplant, lentils, split peas, eggplant, tomato puree and cocoa powder to the black bean mixture, along with two additional cups of water. Stir to combine. I will grant you that, at this exact moment in the cooking process, the chili will look disgusting. Trust me, it will all come together.
Partially cover and cook for an additional thirty minutes until the split peas and the lentils are cooked through. They too, can absorb a lot of water so check for water absorption at the halfway mark and top up with a bit more water if necessary. I know this seems like a lot of water diluting the chili but the beans will add flavor as they cook and add water judiciously a half a cup at a time to ensure that you end up with a thick chili with some broth, rather than a bean soup.
At this point, add the cooked pumpkin, the greens, the red wine and the hot sauce. Stir to combine and cook for an additional three to five minutes until the pumpkin is heated through and the greens silky and wilted.
Taste the stock and add more salt or hot sauce if needed. Other than that, you are good to go...You could add sour cream and avocado and chopped cilantro and grated cheese and...to this as one often does to chili, but I really felt that this did not need any garnishes as it was that good!
This is a several hour project to get to the table.
Inspiration recipe, here. It sounded delicious, and is what inspired me to add eggplant to the chili and then improvise from there, but I couldn't be bothered with all the mess that would come with grilling the eggplant first...