I'm not a strict vegetarian, but I do believe in eating fewer meals that use meat as a protein source. This fabulous chili is a simple dish composed of three kinds of beans and lots of vegetables. I like to make a big batch on the weekend and store it in the refrigerator or freezer for a quick meal during the week. This chili is pleasantly but not overwhelmingly spicy. Check out the amount of chili peppers before you start. If the amount of fresh chilies or chili powder makes you cringe or scoff, add less or more, respectively. Also, feel free to use different kinds of beans or mash some of the beans to give the chili a smoother texture.

Assemble together:


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the carrots, bell peppers, onions, and garlic to the pot and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, stirring often to keep things from burning.

While this is cooking, remove the stem and seeds from the chili peppers and finely mince them. Also open the cans of tomatoes and beans and drain all the beans in a large colander and rinse them with water. Do NOT drain the tomatoes, as the juice is going into the chili.

Once the onions are a nice golden brown, add the chili peppers along with the ground chili powder and cumin. Cook for an additional two to three minutes. Add the tomatoes with juice to the pot, crushing the tomatoes to bits with your fingers. Dump in the rinsed beans and the 1 cup tomato juice. Mix everything and check the taste. Add salt and pepper as needed.

Bring everything to a boil and then reduce the heat to a low temperature that maintains a nice, quiet simmer. Leave the pot uncovered and let it cook for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the consistency often and add more tomato juice or water if things look a bit dry. Taste it again at the end and add more seasonings.

At this point you can serve the chili immediately or let things cool down before throwing it in the fridge or freezer. Toppings can be anything from sour cream or cheddar cheese to fresh salsa or a shot of hot sauce. You can even serve this over white or brown rice. However, I think chili really isn't chili without a big side of steaming cornbread.

Adapted from peanut's bible, The Joy of Cooking.