Saturday, October 24, 2009

Three Bean Chili

Fall is just around the corner. Well, actually I think it has officially begun. This comes as kind of a shock, since Southern California has virtually no fall, or at least a fall season that could appreciably be called "Fall." Coming from New England, I have come to enjoy and love my falls. Autumn is easily my most favorite time of year besides summer and Christmas. The colors on the leaves, the pumpkin, the apple cider, the warmth of spices and the cold rush of an October breeze, the crunch of the leaves under your feet and the fields upon fields of apples and pumpkins just waiting to be picked...

Ahh, I reminisce. I miss my New England falls. But I cannot complain, because now in this new "world" I get nearly 365 days worth of sunshine. And you know how I love my sunshine.

The presence of fall has brought to light another thing that is missing. Soup. Once the leaves turn color and start to tumble down, and the weather begins to turn colder and colder, my family has always turned to soup. When fall arrives, on goes the stove, and on goes the crockpot. The crockpot has always been one of my mom's most beloved kitchen tools. Can you believe that only three years ago we bought her a new crockpot after using hers faithfully for 26 years, since my parents have first been married?! It was a feat to keep a much loved crockpot for so long, but now with the old one laid to rest, we can make bigger soup batches because the new one is so much bigger! I wish they would make appliances today that would last just as long!

I have digressed, however, because the making of this soup has nothing to do with fall, or the colors on the trees or my mothers crockpot. I created this soup this summer, and it is so good I can't believe I haven't raved about it before. But I've been busy, way busy.. so finally, consider it done.

This soup is warm, spicy and has a good mixture of both vegetables and "substance" - ie, meat and potatoes. I made it as an experiment, paired it with cornbread (see my earlier posts) and my mom and I managed to ate the whole batch in a week. So good. Try this soup out on a cold fall or winter day and it's kick of spice will be sure to delight your senses and wake you up!

Meagan's Three Bean Chili

1 lb browned beef chuck
1 small vidalia onion, diced
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 T buter
3 - 15 oz cans of 3 beans (aduki, chickpea and white), drained and rinsed
1 - 15 oz can Muir Glen Fire Roasted tomatoes
4 cups organic free-range chicken stock**
1 heaping 1/4 tsp of smoked paprika - You can sub normal paprika, but you will lose the main taste profile of the soup.
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of black and red pepper flakes
2 cups water
2 T olive oil
2 cups fresh corn off the cobb
2 small golden potatoes, cubed***
1 large pot

To make "THE soup" (as my mom fondly calls it):
1. On medium heat, brown the beef in the pot, and remove (do not drain the fat).
2. Add the vidalia, orange pepper and butter and saute lightly.
3. Add corn and potatoes.
4. Add beans, chicken stock, and tomatoes (do not drain these).
5. Add water.
6. Cover, bring to a boil and then simmer on low until potatoes are almost cooked...
7. Then add olive oil and spices, and return beef to the pot.
8. Simmer on low until potatoes are fully cooked, and their starch is slightly breaking down.
9. EAT and enjoy delicious soup, served with homemade cornbread and shredded raw milk cheddar cheese.

*In the picture, that delicious blob of white goodness you see on top of the hot soup is partially melted FRESH grated raw milk aged sharp cheddar cheese.

**The kind I used is Imagine or Pacific. I did not use low sodium, or reduced salt, so if you are using this kind you might want to add more salt to the soup. I find that sometimes the reduced sodium soups have other additives like MSG. Imagine and Pacific are a good brand, and use sea salt, so I know the salt I am eating my body can use, unlike the weak table salt. And of course - if you have HOMEMADE chicken stock, use it!!

***Add more if you wish, but I am a protein type, and do not do well on lots of carbohydrates, so I generally do not add as much potato as I would, say, meat.

If you bring this tangy chili to winter potluck parties everyone is sure to love you, but don't forget the cornbread!

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