It is the last week of January, February greets us come Friday, are we ready! I know that my sister Cindy is rejoicing as each day grows longer! For most of us still there is the ever present cold weather, or changing weather. I don’t know about you all but I think we were made to eat seasonally! I certainly know that I crave soups in the winter. Hearty satisfying bowls filled with warmth and goodness! This week the recipe I am sharing is just that!
I have to make a confession, I am making a lot of things from the book splurge before Thanksgiving. This is another one from the book Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr. I don’t think I have ever made as many recipes from one book as I have this one (maybe I need to write her and let her know that!) Anyway, it’s a good one. This recipe is for Chili… do you really need another chili recipe, well I would say YES! This is vegan of course, but oh so satisfying! The combination of flavors is pleasing to the palate and as always you can up the heat to your desired degree! The recipe also calls for one potato and zucchini (which the store had none of when I was dashing in for my ingredients arrg!). I think the addition of these things adds both an unexpected crunch with extra flavor too.
In the past when I have made vegan chili I just skip the meat! No big deal right? Well I noticed in this recipe that they have you can use seitan (not that I have any issues with gluten, maybe sensitive, I just prefer not to use it). Seitan: Although it is made from wheat, seitan has little in common with flour or bread. Also called “wheat meat”, “wheat gluten” or simply “gluten”, seitan becomes surprisingly similar to the look and texture of meat when cooked, making it a popular meat substitute. Seitan is also high in protein, making it a popular protein source for vegetarians. Asian restaurants often use seitan as a vegetarian mock meat, and seitan is also the base for several commercially available products such as Tofurky deli slices. http://vegetarian.about.com/od/glossary/g/Seitan.htm
I have to admit I am not one for substituting meat, or eating “fake versions.” Since I was making this for house church I felt it better that this was not the time to experiment, so I went with the mushrooms (just regular tiny bella’s, chopped fine). I also made this choice after reading an article about creating that ‘rich’ savory balance to broths. In this article from America’s test kitchen they used a combination of ground up porcini mushrooms and soy sauce in the broth to create what they described as a savory, almost meaty flavor. While I don’t care about achieving a meaty flavor, I liked the sound of the savory. I didn’t use the same technique, but I believe that the ‘shrooms did the trick in giving a depth to the soup that would have been missing without it!
So if you are trying to add a little depth to a quick barley soup or other veggie based soup you might want to try the trick of adding about 1/8 oz. dried ground porcini mushrooms and 2 teas. soy sauce into your recipe.
I have learned, and I hope that you all are too, that the further away you get from processed food the more flavor you notice food actually has! Amazing!! Real food taste great and it makes you feel great! Fake food lacks flavor so they fill it with addictive chemicals to get you to eat more, making you unsatisfied and lacking in the healthy department!
I hope that you will experiment with the flavors in this soup and make it your own… you know me, I had to do my own thing with the recipe too! Recipes are more often guidelines, have fun, and eat well! you deserve it.
Crazy Sexy Bean Chili
1 2/2 TBS. cumin seeds I didn’t have seeds! Ugg thought I did, used powder
2 TBS olive oil I used 1 TBS and water as needed
1 white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, finely diced (for less heat, remove seeds and or use half the pepper)
2 TBS chili powder
1 1/2 cups ground seitan (alternatives; crumbled tempeh [wheat free] or finely deiced mushrooms [soy free]) I chose to use the mushrooms
1 zucchini, diced I didn’t have any so left it out
½ cup diced potato (any kind) I used little creamy white potato
Two 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed
One 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed
One 14-ounce can of crushed tomatoes (San Marzano recommended) I used Muir -Glen fire roasted!
2 cups water
2 TBS maple syrup
1 teas. Sea salt
½ bunch of fresh cilantro
1-cup kale, chopped
Diced avocado (optional)
Fresh cilantro (optional)
- Toast cumin seeds in dry soup pot on medium heat, for 2 minutes until you smell the robust aroma. (This process releases the full flavor of the spice.) I really want to do this, for that added dimension of flavor. I did try to do it with the powder, but you have to be diligent as not to burn.
- Add the olive oil, onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Stir consistently until the onion is golden and translucent.
- Add in the chili powder, seitan (or sub), zucchini, and potato, and stir well. Sauté for 3-4 minutes, stirring to avoid sticking.
- Add in black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, water, maple syrup, sea salt, and cilantro. Cover with lid, reduce heat to low, and allow to cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.
- Remove from heat, and stir in the kale
- Serve hot. Garnish with diced avocado and a handful of cilantro, if using.
NOTES: My changes in bold. I continue to cut back on oil and don’t miss it at all especially in this kind of dish! The avocado acts as a “sour cream” kind of thing and really adds another depth of flavor and creaminess, giving good fat and not empty calories that sour cream does! I think a sweet potato in this would be wonderful, might try it next time. Also as per the original recommendations of the author, don’t sub cayenne for chili powder. Chili powder is a mix of spices adding a depth of flavor you wouldn’t have just using one single spice. I would serve this up with a twist of lime! Some good homemade tortilla chips too!
Original recipe pg. #121 Crazy Sexy Kitchen by Kris Carr with Chef Chad Sarno