Chili and Throat Tickles

The weather is perfect in Austin. I hate that I have become one of those people whose conversation starter is, “can you believe this weather?”, as if I have nothing better to talk about.

But this weather! Oh man, oh man. I love it.

The mornings have been cold enough where I get to wear mittens and a hat and the afternoons find me in shorts and a t-shirt. The days feel like summer in the pacific northwest, except there are carved pumpkins on the steps and a little girl dressed up as superwoman next door.
Of course real life had to bring my unhappiness down a tad by giving me a cold. It is the kind of cold that is just waiting around the corner. I can feel is brewing in my throat and my head, and I’m doing everything in my power to combat it.

Lots of water? Done. Weird herbal drink that tastes like ginger meets butt? Done. Warm tea with honey? Done. Nine hours of sleep? Yep.

Last but not least, I wanted to make a soup of some sort and because the weather is so perfect I couldn’t resist making chili. I was inspired by the thought of chipotle, as everything about it warms my soul. The thing I love about chili (and soup in general) is you really just throw everything into a pot and call it a meal. As a vegan, I stuck with a three bean chili loaded with vegetables and some peppers for good measure. It soothed my throat and kept me happy and full for hours.

Perfect chili for perfect weather and my not-so-perfect cold.

(oh, I also put down my iPhone and took REAL pictures of my food this time around. Shocking, I know.)

3 Bean Vegan Chipotle Chili

1 tbsp olive oil
1 sweet onion
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
1 zucchini
1 sweet potato
3 cloves of garlic
1 can of black beans
1 can of kidney beans
1 can of pinto beans
1/2 can of chipotle peppers (in sauce)
1/2 can of mild peppers
1.5 cups of vegetable broth (you can use more if you want, I like a thick chili)
1 tbsp chipotle chili powder
2 tsp salt

Heat up olive oil over medium heat. Add in chopped onion and sweet potato, and turn heat to medium high. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add in chopped bell peppers and zucchini and mix in salt. Cook for a few more minutes before adding in the minced garlic.

Next you add in the peppers. I added in an extra spoonful or two of the chipotle sauce, as I wanted the chili to have an extra kick to it. I also chopped up the canned peppers so they kind of melt into the rest of the vegetables, and you don’t even realize they’re there until the flavor hits your face (in a good way). I also threw in half a can of mild peppers for good measure. Why not?

Lastly throw in the beans and the vegetable stock. Mix everything together and add the chipotle chili powder and any more salt your taste buds fancy.

I let this simmer for about 30 minutes, until the smell was too much and I wanted to eat all of it. I served mine with some gluten-free sweet potato corn chips, because they are perfect for scooping and add some texture to the dish.

So many veggies, this cold can’t stick around.

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Fall

Fall is my favorite season.

The only fall that I have ever known is the one filled with honeycrisp apples the size of my head and my family’s annual trip to the pumpkin patch. It is the fall that is filled with blue rain boots and roasted pumpkin seeds. It is the gathering of friends over new soup recipes and pulling out my overly baggy sweaters.

That is the fall I know.

Yesterday I found myself in shorts and a tank top. Swerving through the flat streets of Austin on my red bicycle. Trying to keep up with a boy who makes biking look like a cake walk. It felt like summer. Warm air and the sound of crickets. Firemen playing catch outside the station.

This is the fall I will get used to.

Until I do find my rhythm with this Texas season, I will make soup. I will sit in front of the air conditioner with my baggy sweater. I will pretend the leaves are changing and that somewhere in this big old state there is a pumpkin patch with my name on it.

Chickpea Stew with Olive Oil Fried Eggs

adapted from Bon Appetit

3 tbsp olive oil, divided throughout the recipe

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

8 cups spinach

salt and pepper

1 cup chopped red pepper

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp smoked chipotle (the recipe called for paprika, I had none… the chipotle tasted like heaven, do whatever floats your boat)

2 15-oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed

5 canned whole tomatoes, crushed

3 cups vegetable broth

4 eggs

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a cast iron over medium heat. When oil is hot add 1 garlic clove. Stir until the garlic starts to turn brown and add spinach to the pot. Toss to coat and season with salt and pepper. Cook the spinach until it has just wilted but is still bright green, about two to three minutes. Remove the garlic and spinach and set aside.
  • The magazine recommends wiping out the pan. I did no such thing. Woops.
  • Heat the remaining olive oil (I used less than 2 tbsp… there were still remnants, and it cut down on the fat content of the dish). When oil is hot add remaining garlic and the red pepper. Add the cumin and the chipotle, cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes; stir to coat and let cook for about 10 minutes, until the chickpeas start to brown.
  • Add 3 cups of broth and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes. Occasionally mash a chickpea or two to show it who’s boss, and to make the mixture a stew like consistency. After the 20 minutes, fold in the spinach and simmer for another 10 minutes. If it is too thick, add more broth 1/4 cup at a time. I didn’t do this, as I like my stew to be REALLY thick. Just a matter of preference.
  • Spoon all of this goodness into a bowl and cook your eggs. I just used the remaining oil that was in the cast iron, and cooked for medium low heat, covering the eggs with a little bit of water to cook evenly. I like my eggs sunny side up with a runny yolk, but do whatever floats your boat. The olive oil makes the edges nice and crispy, which is delicious with the stew. Yum.
  • Serve the stew in bright bowls and top with an egg.

* I made some homemade wheat bread with this recipe because every stew needs hearty bread. If you have the 2 hours that it takes to make bread, go for it. We may or may not have eaten two loaves in two days… Homemade bread is just that delicious.