It has been 45 F or higher here with blinding sunshine the last 2 days. The entire landscape is melting into a totally smooth ice rink. Because there was apparently too much snow for it to totally disappear. And then this evening it started snowing again and now it is supposed to be cold again and they are calling for 3 inches tonight.
Which is nothing to many of you I realize, but we have not really solidified our snow removal process here and we keep getting relegated to one car, in which case obviously I get stuck at home.
So keep your fingers crossed that John can get the tiny Corolla out of the driveway (it is inclined) tomorrow morning.
In the meantime, nothing says cold weather and comfort me like a bowl of chili. Everyone knows that. And for those of you chili’d out by the Super Bowll, this is a fabulous twist that I promise you won’t be sick of.
So may I present my Pumpkin “Vegetarian” Chili. I used to think of it as a stew, until one day my sister had it and said this is a vegetarian chili. But that is not really right since I do use chicken stock in it. But you could use vegetable stock. Ergo, the quotation marks.
This is one of those recipes that is more a list of ingredients than anything else–amounts are really up to you. I’ll do my best to remember how much I put of each item, but really as long as you taste as you go it will be fine.
1-2 T vegetable oil
1 large onion, diced
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
(summer squash is great too if you have it around but I did not)
1 15 oz can roasted tomatoes with chile peppers (plain are fine too)
3 T ancho chile powder
1 1/2 T ground cumin
1 t Mexican oregano, rubbed between your fingers into the pot
salt to taste
2 15 oz cans of packed pumpkin or equivalent roasted and pureed
3-4 cups chicken stock
1-4 T brown sugar or honey, to taste (this one is very personal)
chipotles–either canned and minced or dried powder, to taste/tolerance (I added after cooking)
3 15 oz cans of beans–your choice–I used one can of black and the rest were cooked heirloom beans from my sister’s farmers’ market
2-3 cups of corn (in the winter I swear by frozen organic)
heavy cream to taste–I used about 1/4 cup
juice from 1/2 lime
shredded cheddar and monterey jack
Heat a large stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat. When hot add the oil–when it shimmers add the onions. Sprinkle with some salt. Let cook until lightly caramelized, maybe 10 minutes. Add the garlic and bell pepper (and sumer squash if using) and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add the spices and roast briefly, stirring to prevent scorching. Add the canned tomatoes and fry–briefly if using roasted but longer, maybe 10 minutes, if using plain canned tomatoes.
Add the canned pumpkin and chicken stock and stir to blend. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer for 20 minutes. Add the beans and corn and some sugar and taste for seasoning and/or additional sugar (if you are using homemade stock you will need to add a decent scoop of salt). It will taste very strong at this point–it needs to cook further, at least 20 minutes but it could simmer longer if need be– and have the cream added to round it out. Right before serving turn off the heat and add the cream and lime juice. Taste one more time for seasoning.