This week I challenged myself to think outside of the box. I was finally embracing my chili cravings…but what would make my chili unique? For everyone who is not-so-keen on the butternut squash/sweet potato/pumpkin flare I have been working into my recipes basically since the first leaf turned orange in mid-September, I give you this break. Vegetarian chili seems to lean on these ingredients, or sometimes soy meat, and I wanted to push beyond these standards.
Meaty chili tends to rely on the flavorful combination of the tomatoes and the juices from the ground beef or turkey. Although they typically do not involve added broth or milk, I decided I would experiment with one of my favorite flavors: coconut milk. I have seen some variations with beer and have even made a vegetarian chili with chocolate, but this is FAR AND AWAY the best vegetarian and vegan chili I have ever tasted (pats self on back). Give it a try – as with most soups and chili, the flavor just gets better and better each day. This recipe makes 5 large servings.
1 small can of coconut milk (the brand Thai Kitchen makes one with 5.6 oz)
1 large can of chopped or diced tomatoes
1 cup of frozen sweet corn, thawed
1.5 cups of frozen spinach, thawed
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and chopped
Olive oil, cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (if desired for extra spice)
In a large pot over medium heat, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Pour in the diced onions and chopped jalapeno and saute until the onions are glassy.
In the same pot over medium heat, add the entire can of tomatoes, the coconut milk, the corn, the spinach, and the chickpeas. Stir everything thoroughly. You will be left with a fair amount of liquid, but this will cook off as you continue to cook the chili uncovered.
Leaving the lid off of the pot, simmer the mixture for 15-20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. The coconut milk may form a thicker consistency over the top, but this should easily dissolve when stirred each time. After this first chunk of time, about 20 minutes, give the chili a taste and add salt, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of cumin, and any cayenne pepper for spice.
Continue simmering for another 15-20 minutes or until the liquid seems to have at least evaporated about an inch. Let cool a bit and serve with or without a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream!