It is solely thanks to this chili that I have not turned into a popsicle. With temperatures dipping into the low twenties at night and hitting a scorching thirty-something degrees during the day, this weather is definitely a departure from what I’m used to, even during the winter. Usually, Houston’s frosty atmosphere settles itself somewhere in the forties during these months, necessitating little more than a warm coat. For the past couple of weeks, however, we have all been blindsided by these freezing temperatures. (Anyone who lives north of, well…Dallas, feel free to chuckle at my version of “freezing”).
The point is, Houstonians have been brought to a standstill by this weather. Between schools that close their doors at even a hint of the possibility that there might, maybe, perhaps exist the improbable chance of snow, to the news crews who make special breaking announcements the second they see a snowflake waft down from the overcast heavens, people tend to overreact. They dress really funny, too. From the girls wandering around my school in Ugg boots and short shorts, to the guys in short-sleeved polos, to the occasional ninny shivering in summery sandals (guilty), this cold snap sure does provide for some hilarious people watching. Granted, they tend to wise up and drag some warm coat out of the back of the closet after a day or two, so it’s best to strike while the iron’s hot with this sort of thing.
Suffice it to say that after a good week of freezing temperatures, icy winds, and my ever-present Snuggie, it was time for something to warm things up. When it comes to foods that give you that warm, roasty-toasty feeling, nothing does it better than chili, especially if that chili is full of yummy veggies and savory-sweet spices. On that score, this bowl of deliciousness definitely fits the bill.
Beyond the general happy tummy factor that this chili provides, it also brings with it some seriously awesome health benefits. Between the colorful bell peppers, two kinds of beans, and filling sweet potatoes, this dish is super duper good for you. It’s pretty much antioxidants-a-go-go in there.
If you plan on giving this recipe a try (which you totally should), I have garnered a few tips to smooth out the journey, along with how I learned the hard way.
- If the chili looks too thick, add some water.
- Mine started out closer to some sort of pot pie filling consistency, since I added double the veggies than the original recipe.
- Use canned beans.
- I spent 48 hours soaking, draining, and cooking two bags of beans, only for them to turn to mush because I used too little water. Save yourself the headache and go with the canned stuff.
- This recipe has a slight Indian spiciness to it, thanks to the cinnamon and cumin, so add a pinch of garam masala if you would like to amp up that flavor.
- A fact I discovered would taste amazing…after half the pot was gone. Still, you can obviously see that it’s delicious either way.
With that, I will send you on your merry chili-making way. You have my blessing and my best wishes for a non-freezing week. If it is freezing…well, just don’t wear sandals. That will take you far.
Vegetarian Sweet Potato Chili
Recipe adapted from “Slow-Cooker Vegetarian Chili with Sweet Potatoes” from Real Simple
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
32 ounces canned, diced tomatoes (I know this is a weird measurement, but it can be accomplished with one 28-ounce can and a little less than half of a 14.5-ounce can)
3 cups water
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons cocoa powder
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
big pinch of cayenne pepper
In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, and bell peppers, sautéing for several minutes until softened. Add the beans and potatoes, stirring well. Pour in the tomatoes and water, again stirring to combine. Finally, add the chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
Give it a good stir and allow it to come to a boil. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender. Check the potatoes for softness after 10 minutes, depending on how large or small they were cut.
Serve chili warm with sour cream, chopped scallions, tortilla chips, or avocado. Or all the above.
Just a little side note: I happened upon a chili/soup contest that was offering up some truly lovely prizes, so I'm including some required lines in this post to enter. So, if you wish, “Come join Soup-a-Palooza at TidyMom and Dine and Dish sponsored by Bush’s Beans, Hip Hostess, Pillsbury, and Westminster Crackers.”