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Butternut Chili
Sadly my mother-in-law, Mary Kollm, passed away on January 27, 2018. (http://www.goldfinchfuneralhome.com/obituaries/Mary-Kollm/#!/Obituary) She was 96 and lived across the street from us for the past couple of years. My brother-in-law David and his wife Carol came to Pawleys Island to help us get her house ready to sell. We had a good time going through years of memorabilia, retelling family stories, going to the beach, and teaching my grandson Eli how to ride a bike. Dave and Carol had been raving about this vegetarian chili and finally had time to make it for us. It was worth the wait! This is the first vegetarian chili that I prefer over the meat version.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
1 small butternut squash (1 ½ pounds or less), peeled and chopped into ½-inch cubes
4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
1 tablespoon chili powder
½+ tablespoon chopped chipotle pepper in adobo* (start with ½ tablespoon and add more to taste, I thought mine was just right with 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked black beans
1 small can (14 ounces) diced tomatoes, including the liquid**
2 cups vegetable broth (or one 14-ounce can)
Salt, to taste
2 Avocados from Mexico, diced
3 corn tortillas for crispy tortilla strips (or substitute crumbled tortilla chips)
Optional additional garnishes: Chopped fresh cilantro and/or red pepper flakes

Instructions

In a 4- to 6-quart Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion, bell pepper and butternut squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are turning translucent.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the garlic, chili powder, ½ tablespoon chopped chipotle peppers, cumin and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes and their juices and broth. Stir to combine and cover for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Taste about halfway through cooking and add more chopped chipotle peppers if you’d like.

You’ll know your chili is done when the butternut squash is nice and tender and the liquid has reduced a bit, producing the hearty chili consistency we all know and love. Remove the bay leaf and add salt to taste.

To make the crispy tortilla strips: stack the corn tortillas and slice them into thin little strips, about 2 inches long by ¼ inch wide. Warm a drizzle of olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat until shimmering. Toss in the tortilla slices, sprinkle with salt and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 7 minutes. Remove tortilla strips from skillet and drain on a plate covered with a piece of paper towel.
Serve the chili in individual bowls, topped with crispy tortilla strips and plenty of diced avocado. I added a little sprinkle of red pepper flakes (optional). Cilantro would be nice as well. You might want to serve this along with some chipotle hot sauce (Tabasco makes one) for the spice addicts like myself.

TIPS:

*CHIPOTLE IN ADOBO SAUCE is usually found in the Mexican section of the grocery store. I never need a whole can at once, so I use what I need and then transfer the rest to a small freezer bag, pressing it flat before freezing it. Then, I can pull off as much as I need later.

**FIND BPA-FREE CANS of diced tomatoes if possible. Muir Glen’s canned tomatoes are BPA-free.

ON LEFTOVERS: This chili reheats great. Avocado and crispy tortilla chips should be added after reheating, just before serving. These tortilla strips tend to lose their crisp over time, so you can a) skip them altogether, b) make more just before serving or c) substitute a small handful of crumbled tortilla chips instead!

WANT TO MAKE THIS IN A CROCKPOT/SLOW COOKER? I haven’t tried, but commenters report that this chili turns out well after 4 hours on high or 7 to 8 hours on low.

FUN FACT: If you’re looking for the butternut chili presented by a contestant on ABC’s The Chew, this is it!

From: Dave & Carol Kollm, February 27, 2018
entree · vegetarian · all