Sunday, January 24, 2021

Cherney’s Chili (Vegan)

Recipe adapted from R. Cherney

Way back when, I migrated from New England to California, with my worldly possessions and camping gear stuffed into an old Pinto station wagon. Along the way I stayed with a friend of a friend, a grad student at Champaign Urbana. He lived in a communal house and whipped up the most marvelous vegan chili for dinner, not that I knew anything about chili then. Many years and pots of chili later, I can say that what really sets R. Cherney’s recipe apart from the usual crowd is a goodly dose of red wine, enhancing both flavor and aroma.

Spiced Up to Perfection
While I’ve added some cumin to R’s generous amount of chili powder, and a red bell pepper to his green, his pinch or two of cayenne is the key kicker in the mix. The addition of both tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes is a touch of genius. These combine flavorfully with the wine and bell peppers with a sort of Italian-ish flair, creating a chili that is neither too thick nor too thin. I recommend pairing it as he did that night long ago, with homemade cornbread (or muffins if you prefer) and red wine.

Throughout the years I’ve doubled and even tripled the recipe for big gatherings. Always popular, with flavor and texture that satisfies vegans and carnivores alike. The New Year is a perfect time to start eating more plant-based meals. Happy 2021!

Chock full o' Plant-Based Nutrition
Cherney’s Chili
serves ~12

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper
  • 1 medium red bell pepper
  • 2 – 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes (15 oz.)
  • 1 can tomato sauce or puree (15 oz.)
  • 2 – 5 large cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 tbsp. dried basil
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ancho chili powder
  • 1 – 2 pinches cayenne (hot!), or to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 4 – 5 cups cooked kidney beans (3 – 15oz. cans)
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Chop onions and green and red bell peppers into medium dice. Add olive oil to deep soup pot or very large skillet. Sauté onions and bell peppers (green and red) over medium heat until onions are translucent and veggies are softened, stirring frequently, about 6 – 8 minutes.

Add canned chopped tomatoes, tomato puree or sauce, and garlic to pan. Stir and heat over medium high heat till sauce is simmering and garlic is fragrant. Remove from heat and stir in chili powder, dried basil, ground cumin, ancho chili powder, cayenne, bay leaves, and red wine. Next add the beans. Stir it up again and bring back to simmering over medium high heat.

Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 2 hours. Stir occasionally, taste after 1 hour and add salt, pepper, and/or additional spices if desired.

Serve with corn bread and red wine, or enjoy on its own.

Sauteed onion and red and bell peppers
First Saute Savories
Add Tomatoes and Sauce
Stir in Spices and Herbs
Last: Add Beans
Cover & Simmer for 2 Hours
Cherney's Chili Complete!

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