With a slight chill in the air, it’s time for repeat batches of this Vegetarian Sweet Green Pepper Chili. It’s fiery blend of peppers and sweet undertone of brown sugar will earn a blue ribbon at any holiday chili cook-off!
ME BEFORE THE RECIPE…
So the girls and I went to a mother/daughter witches’ party last weekend. I’m usually not into the whole dressing up for Halloween thing. If my kiddos coerce me enough, I may wear black pants with a black shirt and paint some whiskers on my face and call myself a cat, but other than that I’m content dressing up as an everyday “mom”. My children seem to never approve of that creative costume.
Before kids came along, Ben and I were quite the Halloween couple. We loved coordinating our outfits for costume parties. We’ve dressed up as a mother/daughter pageant duo, a hillbilly and 80’s aerobics instructor, Saturday Night Fever disco dancers, gangsters, and a slew of other costumes. We always enjoyed showing off our creativity and trust me, Ben LOVED the attention.
But for some reason, throwing kids into the mix stresses me out. Like MAJORLY stresses me out. I can’t even think of coordinating costumes between the 4 of us. It takes me long enough to get just the two girls ready for Halloween parties and trick-or-treating, why would I want to add an extra 30 minutes of chaos to dress up myself??? Too. Much. STRESS.
And thus was the story for getting ready for our witch party. As is an everyday occurrence in my life, I thought that I could do more than I could really do in a short amount of time. I was supposed to bring a pot of soup for the party, and I didn’t even start the soup (which takes an hour and a half to make) until an hour before the party was scheduled to begin.
When will I ever learn time management? Let’s just say that soup only got half the simmerin’ love it was supposed to.
Anyway, I got the soup started and then rushed to the girls’ aid braiding hair, curling hair, getting makeup done, throwing on costumes, and spray painting their hair (washable of course). Once they were satisfied with their looks it was “me time”. And by “me time” I mean: shower myself, pick out something slightly resembling a witch costume to wear, slap on some make up, and mess up my unintentional messy bun a little more to make it look like I was actually attempting to portray a disheveled scary person on purpose.
After all was said and done, I was only a mere 15 minutes late to the party and, given the hectic circumstances, I felt quite proud about that. I wasn’t even the last person there, so BOO yeah!
Oh, and you want to know my little secret for getting your food eaten at potlucks??? Put it first in line! Haha, I seriously do that. If your food is toward the end, then nobody has room for it because they’ve loaded up on all the other grub before yours. So yeah, sometimes I’ll even discreetly slide other people’s food down to make room for mine. I know, I know. I’m such a WITCH!
HERE COMES THE RECIPE…
Although I settled on making a quick and easy San Antonio stew (one of the first recipes I ever posted), I was considering making a pot of Vegetarian Sweet Green Pepper Chili to waken everybody’s taste buds. I’m telling you, if you want a real party, this chili needs an invite because it brings all sorts of spice.
Here’s the thing. I have no sympathy. My family would be hysterically laughing and agreeing in unison right about now. But reality is, I don’t. I’m a suck it up kind of gal and, probably to a flaw, I inflict that attitude upon my girls. I don’t want to raise any whiney babies over here, so I set my expectations high and require them to do hard things. This includes eating.
I don’t cater to my kids as far as mealtime goes. What mommy makes, they eat. Simple as that. And because I want them to develop a diverse palate, I feed them an array of foods with varying flavor combos…including SPICY.
Now I’m not one to burn my kids’ mouths off or anything that intense. That would just be downright cruel. But I do add more than the typical amount of “child friendly” spice to my foods so they can build a tolerance toward a little heat. And, well, this chili definitely packs some heat!
With a mixture of hatch chilis, jalapenos, and green chilis you can’t help but have some sizzle on your tongue. But, oh, it sizzles so good! Really, it’s a happy kind of burn.
In all reality, I didn’t think the chili was too extremely spicy. The green chilis were mild, and I thoroughly seeded the hatch chili and jalapeno. In my opinion, Ben and the girls were just being babies when they repeatedly commented on how spicy they thought this chili was. Seriously, all through dinner they sounded like fire breathing dragons as they were slurping down their soup.
If you aren’t a huge fan of spice, I have some suggestions for you. First off, you can always cool the chili down with toppings. I like to add sour cream, cheese, and chilled avocado to my bowl. Those seem to really tame the spice level.
Or, if you are extremely sensitive, swap the hatch chili for a poblano or green bell pepper and omit the jalapeno altogether. Also, just add half a jalapeno. Make sure to get out all those seeds though. Otherwise your mouth will be hating you. You can even omit the jalapeno as well if your mouth is a virgin to spice.
This particular chili wins my heart because not only does it pack a punch in the spice department, but it has a subtle sweetness that cools the burn. It’s my favorite part. It’s like those Sour Patch commercials where first the candies are mean and sour and then they become nice and sweet. Same here. The chili kicks your booty and then apologizes with a hint of sweetness. Fabulous.
Oh, and did I mention this chili is vegetarian??? Chili is one of those things that I more often than not like to prepare vegetarian. By the time you add all your beans and veggies, nobody misses the meat anyway. Trust me.
I added cubed butternut squash because I love the sweetness and fall flavor that it brings to the soup. I also slightly caramelized onions before adding any of the other ingredients to enhance that sweet undertone.
The thing I love about chili is that it’s so versatile. You really can put any vegetable you want into a pot of chili. I’ve learned to scan my fridge and make a batch based on what veggies need to be used up the quickest. Once you cook your chili, you can easily toss half the batch in the freezer for future meals.
Plus, you can eat chili a million ways: with chips, on top of potatoes, in chili dogs, alone in a bowl, on top of nachos, with rice, on hamburgers, in taco shells, you name it. Chili is a weeknight winner dinner for sure!
So be brave. Be bold. It’s time to step outside of your comfort zone and welcome some fire into your life, starting with chili because chili is where it’s at. And give me your tough, honest opinion. Is this chili too hot or is my family a bunch of cry babies. Without shame, I say the latter.
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
- Make ahead – It’s not necessary, but most soups/chilis are better as they sit. If you can, make this chili a day ahead and reheat it in a crock pot or on the stove before serving. If serving the same day, at least let it simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
- Choose your beans – You don’t have to use kidney and pinto beans. It’s just what I had on hand. Feel free to use northern beans, black beans, navy beans, or any mixture of beans you prefer.
- Not a vegetarian – We’re not vegetarians over here, but I do think it’s important to incorporate weekly vegetarian meals. This chili is very hearty and we don’t miss the meat at all. If you feel like you need meat in this chili, just add your choice of meat when you add the squash and hatch chili. Cook through.
- Not a spice lover – That’s okay. Just omit the can of green chilis and only add half of a jalapeno or omit the jalapeno completely. You can also swap out the hatch chili for a poblano or green bell pepper for a really mild version.
- Add some texture – This chili is splendid on it’s own, but any soup/chili is enhanced with some extra texture. Play around with some toppings to add a variety of taste and texture: cool sour cream, crunchy tortilla chips, smooth avocado, melty cheese, tangy peperoncinis, fresh diced tomatoes, you name it. The toppings are nearly the best part!
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY…
- Gluten Free White Bean Chicken Chili
- Gluten Free Crock Pot Ham and Bean Soup
- Gluten Free Vegetarian Crock Pot Taco Soup
- Gluten Free Ranch Style Chili
- Gluten Free Smokey Turkey Chili
- 4 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- salt and pepper for seasoning
- ⅓ cup red wine (optional)*
- 1 hatch chili, seeded and diced
- 2 cups butternut squash, chopped into ¼" cubes
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small can mild diced green chilis (4 oz.)
- 1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz.)
- 1 can tomato sauce (15 oz.)
- 1 cup water or vegetable broth**
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 3-4 tablespoons pure maple syrup or brown sugar, depending on preference
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground mustard
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- juice of 1 lime
- 2 cans dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- In a cast iron pot or other soup pot, melt butter over medium heat. Once pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles, add onion, sugar, and a few shakes of salt and pepper for seasoning. Reduce heat to just below medium. Stir and cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid burning, until onions are browning. Add red wine* and cook until reduced, about 3-4 minutes more.
- Add additional 2 tablespoons butter, hatch chili, butternut squash, and chopped mushrooms. Season with additional shakes of salt and pepper. Still to coat evenly with seasonings. Cook for an additional 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are tender and squash is browning. Add jalapeno, garlic, and diced green chilis. Stir and cook 2 minutes more.
- Add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, water or veggie broth, Worcestershire sauce, 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup or brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, ground mustard, parsley, oregano, paprika, lime juice, kidney beans, and pinto beans. Stir to combine.
- Bring pot to a low boil. Reduce heat to simmering. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes or until chili has reached desired consistency. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper.** Add additional tablespoon of pure maple syrup or brown sugar for extra sweetness.
- Serve with desired toppings. Store leftovers in an airtight container in fridge for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 6 months.
**If using water, you will probably need to add ½-1 teaspoon salt at the end. I didn't need to season my chili any extra at the end because I used veggie broth.
NOTES ON THE RECIPE:
1. Make ahead - It's not necessary, but most soups/chilis are better as they sit. If you can, make this chili a day ahead and reheat it in a crock pot or on the stove before serving. If serving the same day, at least let it simmer for 30 minutes before serving.
2. Choose your beans - You don't have to use kidney and pinto beans. It's just what I had on hand. Feel free to use northern beans, black beans, navy beans, or any mixture of beans you prefer.
3. Not a vegetarian - We're not vegetarians over here, but I do think it's important to incorporate weekly vegetarian meals. This chili is very hearty and we don't miss the meat at all. If you feel like you need meat in this chili, just add your choice of meat when you add the squash and hatch chili. Cook through.
4. Not a spice lover - That's okay. Just omit the can of green chilis and only add half of a jalapeno or omit the jalapeno completely. You can also swap out the hatch chili for a poblano or green bell pepper for a really mild version.
5. Add some texture - This chili is splendid on it's own, but any soup/chili is enhanced with some extra texture. Play around with some toppings to add a variety of taste and texture: cool sour cream, crunchy tortilla chips, smooth avocado, melty cheese, tangy peperoncinis, fresh diced tomatoes, you name it. The toppings are nearly the best part!