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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Enjoying a REAL Spring! Chunky 3-Bean Veggie Chili

Having grown up in the Midwest, I really enjoy all four seasons in this order: Fall for the beautiful leaves and crisp days. Winter because given the choice, I'd rather be too cold than too hot, and snow just makes me happy. Spring when the tulips, daffodils and crocuses pop up through the last of the snow. Last and definitely least, is summer. Don't get me wrong, I do not miss the humidity of the Midwest one bit, but it gets really hot here in southern California - 110-112° is not at all unusual. And if you ask me, we don't even get a real winter here, but talk to a local and they will be freezing at 50° - give me a break! The seasons go from summer to fall to spring and right back into summer again. Quite often by the middle of April the temperature is already climbing into the 90's and the kids are jumping into the pool right after school. That's not even what I would call a real spring!

Even though I know summer is right around the corner, we've enjoyed a nice long REAL spring this year. After a rainy February, other than a couple of hot days here and there it's been in the 70's during the day and 50's at night - which means I can still make some chili. This one is chock-full of veggies and gets it's depth of flavor from several different chili powders. All these veggies would tend to water down the flavor, so it calls for quite a heavy hand with seasonings.

Three-bean Veggie Chili
makes 6-8 servings
1 small onion
4-6 cloves of garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small carrot
1 small zucchini
1 small red bell pepper
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp green New Mexico chili powder
1 Tbsp jalapeno chili powder
3-4 Tbsp cumin
1 tsp cayenne
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1 tsp finely ground black pepper (or to taste)
15oz. can black beans
15oz. can kidney beans
15oz. can great northern beans
15oz. can petite diced tomatoes
15oz. can crushed tomatoes
6oz. can tomato paste
2 cups water or vegetable stock
Dice onion and mince garlic. Saute in olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Chop remaining vegetables into small dice. Add carrot to pot and cook, stirring occasionally until they begin to soften, about 6 minutes. Add zucchini and green pepper, and cook another minute or two. Add seasonings and stir to coat evenly, saute for a minute or two. Add tomatoes, paste and water/stock. Scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pot. Stir and cook over medium heat until lightly bubbling. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 20-30 minutes stirring occasionally. Add more water/stock if too thick. Serve with minced raw onions and a dollop of plain non-fat yogurt if desired.
1 cup of chili served over half of a large baked sweet potato is about 250 calories

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