This British Vegetarian Chili with Red Wine is a delicious and healthy twist on your gameday ritual! Or if you are not a sports fan, it is a comforting and warming soup for the colder months. Affiliate links have been used in this post to link to items I am discussing.
The minute I saw the basis for this vegetarian chili in Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg: 200 Inspired Vegetable Recipes I knew I was trying it. Now I have not had the best luck over the years with interpretations of Mexican or Tex Mex cuisine from “over the pond.” But after careful consideration of the recipe, really the only unusual ingredient was the red wine–and the lack of a robust ground chile pepper (Fearnley-Whittingstall only uses a teaspoon of cayenne which is quite spicy but not very flavorful in my opinion). And I was intrigued by the red wine. After all I use beer all the time. Why not red wine?
But first let me back up a bit and say I am loving River Cottage Veg, which my darling family gave me for my birthday (along with some other goodies). Fearnley-Whittingstall is a longtime British food writer, and he is always interesting to read. And, as important, I have quite a few recipes boookmarked–most of them with more of an Asian influence, not so much in the Tex Mex vein.
Please indulge the different photos, as I play with my new backdrops and figure out which napkins look good with what. Feel free to share a color preference in the comments! Also, in typical distracted fashion, I marinated slivered cabbage in lemon juice all day to serve with the chili and then forgot to put it in the photos. So I only have a few with the cabbage, but I highly recommend it as it adds a citrusy crunch–and means I did not miss the tortilla chips!
As for my vegetarian chili, I read through Fearnley-Whittingstall’s recipe and then closed the book. Which is not to say that I was not inspired by the recipe, I completely was. But aside from some of the vegetable suggestions and the use of red wine, I just worked from my own tastes, since I know how I like my Tex Mex! I did stay true to the author’s challenge to keep the dish completely vegetarian. Not because he preaches vegetarianism, he definitely does not, but he does preach allowing vegetables to shine without worrying about a meat flavor. I added extra beans and went with it.
- 2-3 T vegetable oil (I used avocado)
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- salt to taste
- 6-8 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sweet bell peppers, chopped
- 1 t dried Mexican oregano
- 1 t dried thyme
- 2 t ground cumin
- 2 t ground ancho chili pepper
- 1/4 t allspice
- 1/2 t Ceylon cinnamon
- 4 medium-large tomatoes, very coarsely chopped
- 3/4 cup red wine (I used a Spanish rioja--be sure to use something you would drink)
- 3 cups water
- 1 15-oz can drained and rinsed Great Northern white beans
- 1 15-oz can drained and rinsed black beans
- 1 roasted hatch chile pepper, chopped (poblano is fine too)
- 2 zucchini, sliced into half moons
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces (can also use butternut squash)
- 2 T strong coffee (I happened to have—you could also use instant coffee or espresso)
- shredded cheddar cheese
- sour cream (I prefer full fat, especially in a vegetarian chili)
- shredded cabbage tossed in fresh lemon (or lime) juice
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot, such as a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add the onions with a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, until they release their water and begin to turn golden.
Add the garlic, bell peppers and oregano and thyme. Add another pinch of salt and cook, stirring, for another 5 minutes.
Add the cumin, ancho chile pepper, allspice and Ceylon cinnamon. Stir for one minute.
Add the tomatoes and red wine with another pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, and reduce the wine for 5 minutes.
Add the water, beans and roasted chile pepper. Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Let cook for one hour.
Add the zucchini and sweet potato with the coffee. Bring back to a boil, and then cover again and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer (truly gentle--a brisk simmer will cause the vegetables to go mushy). Let simmer for 30-45 minutes.
When you are ready to eat and the sweet potatoes are tender, taste for salt. Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese and the shredded cabbage in lemon juice.
For the collage fans: