Meatless Monday: Hearty White Bean Chili

When starting off a new year with painfully cold temps, the only way to deal is to bake and cook up a big pot of something warm and hearty and cozy to fill your belly and heat your whole body from the toes up. This chili is so simple, but so layered with flavor and warmth. Four types of beans, sweet corn, spices, and a creamy surprise ingredient elevate this from a basic to a really special bowl of hearty chili perfect for welcoming in a new year (or otherwise driving out the chill). Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
* 1 sweet onion, chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 32oz vegetable broth
* 4 15.5oz cans of white beans, any type, and a combination is great. Possibilities: garbanzo, cannelini, Northern white, navy, butter, etc.
* 4oz can mild green chilis
* 1T chili powder
* 2 1/2t cumin
* 1t dried oregano
* 1t paprika
* 1/2t salt
* 1/4t ground black pepper
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (optional)
* 1C frozen sweet corn
* 3/4C tahini
* fresh chopped cilantro for garnish
* fresh lemon wedges for serving

WHAT TO DO
Heat a large pot over medium hear. Add a few tablespoons of water, and when its just shimmering, add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to begin softening the vegetables and release the aromatics.

Add everything else but the frozen corn and tahini, and bring the pot to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook for 40 minutes.

Add the frozen corn and the tahini. Raise the heat back up to medium and cook until heated through, just a few minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of fresh chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Meatless Monday: White Bean, Kale, and Farro Soup

I’m not a slow cooker person. I see all these recipes and I want to be, but so far, it’s not working out. We registered for and we’re gifted a really nice slow cooker for our wedding. I used it once in 5 years and got rid of it a few years ago. But there are so many enticing slow cooker recipes out there. It can be frustrating for those of us who want to try slow cooker XYZ but don’t have a machine. Anyone else out there? Or is “those of us” just me? Anyway, my good friend sent me this recipe last week and it looked amazing. But guess what? Slow cooker. So I decided I’d update it for non-slow cooker cooking and ended up modifying it a bit because, well, that’s what I do. It’s perfect for a cold winter night… and then a week’s worth of lunches after. And instead of 8-10 hours, it’ll be ready in under 1. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 1C farro, rinsed
* 8C vegetable broth, plus more as needed
* 4C chopped kale
* 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
* 1T Italian seasoning
* large bunch fresh parsley, chopped
* 1/2 a sweet onion, chopped
* 1/2 a large lemon, juiced
* 1/2t fine sea salt
* 1/4t ground black pepper
* 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* freshly grated Parmesan, for topping, optional

WHAT TO DO
Add the farro, broth, kale, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, parsley, onion, lemon juice, salt, and pepper to a large pot over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and cook, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

Raise heat back up to medium and add the beans. If too much of the liquid has been absorbed, add more broth (or water), one cup at a time. Cook another 10-12 minutes.

Serve with a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan and some warm, crusty bread for dipping and enjoy!

Meatless Monday: Fire Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Among the things I don’t like about the weather turning colder: wearing socks. Among the things I love? SOUP SEASON! Two years ago, I decided I wanted to start making more homemade soups. That year my sweet gent bought me an immersion blender for my birthday and I could not have been more excited. And the rest is history. (NOTE: you don’t need an immersion blender to make great soup!) Tomato soup—made right—is one of the best things on the planet (done wrong it’s straight tomato juice-gross, though). This one is not only done oh-so-right, it’s also easy and completely weeknight-friendly. So whip up a grilled cheese sandwich for dipping and get to it. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* vegetable oil
* 1/2 a sweet onion, rough chopped
* 3t minced garlic
* 1T flour
* 14.5oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes (no sat added)
* 28oz can whole peeled plum tomatoes
* ~1/4C sundried tomatoes (packed in oil), drained and chopped
* 3C vegetable broth
* 1/4C heavy cream
* 1/4-1/2C fresh basil, chopped
* salt
* freshly ground black pepper
* 2 bay leaves

WHAT TO DO
Heat a drizzle of vegetable oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onion and garlic and sauté about 5 minutes, until soft. Add the flour and stir until there are no lumps. Then add the diced tomatoes, the plum tomatoes (crushing them one by one as you add them to the pot), the sun-dried tomatoes, the broth, and the cream. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the tomatoes begin to break down.

Remove the pot from the heat and either use an immersion blender to purée the soup or blend it in batches in a regular blender.

Return the puréed soup to a simmer. Add more broth (or water) if you prefer it thinner. Add the basil, salt and pepper to taste, and the bay leaves, and stir to combine. Simmer another 15 minutes.

Serve hot (and don’t forget the grilled cheese!).

White Bean Chicken Chili

I’m a little disappointed that it was cool enough to consider chili a viable option this week. But it is what it is. Chili is such a great one-pot meal. So many ways to change it up, both through the recipe itself and in how you serve it. This version is a perfect example–make it spicier or milder, go all low and slow or work the shortcuts for a busy night. Any way you cut it, you’re going to end up with a potently flavor-rich bowl of hearty, heathy, belly-warming goodness. Here you go.

WHAT YOU NEED
* 2 small sweet onions, diced
* 3T olive oil
* 1 4-5oz can mild diced green chilis
* 4t minced garlic
* 32oz low-sodium chicken broth
* meat from 1 storebought roasted rotisserie chicken, sheedded (or if you have enough time, roast your own chicken)
* 2 15oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
* juice of 1 large lime
* 1T cumin
* 1t dried oregano
* 1t salt
* 1/2t ground black pepper
* 1/4t cayenne pepper (or more if you want a bit more of a kick)
* 1/3C fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

WHAT TO DO
Add the olive oil to a large pot and heat over medium-high heat to warm.

Add the onion and diced green chilis. Cook for about 5-7?minutes, or until the onions turn soft and translucent, stirring occasionally.

Add the garlic and stir to combine. Then sauté for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Place 1 cup of the beans into a blender with about 1/2 a cup of water and blend into a paste-like consistency. 

Add that paste, plus the broth, shredded chicken, the rest of the beans, the lime juice, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and bring to a boil. Boil gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced so that the chili is as thick as you like it. If it gets too thick, add a little more broth or water to thin it out.

Add the cilantro, stir to combine, and cook another 2 minutes. Then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 

Serve topped with any of your choice of chili garnishes. Some of our favorites: homemade tortilla strips, diced avocado, diced tomato, freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese, more fresh chopped cilantro, sour cream or Greek yogurt… and so on! Enjoy!