It has been quite a while. (Sorry, Alva!)I have no excuse, but to say absolute laziness has taken over, and I haven’t taken any pictures of the food I’ve made. Believe me when I say I have made some awesome food. Soups, cookies, stews, bread… All sorts of yum. To be honest, I have thought a lot about the blog, and thought a lot about taking more pictures, and making more blog-worthy food, but thinking and doing are two very different things! But tonight’s dinner was delicious, and to give myself just one more reason to procrastinate on other things, I will blog about it.
Tonight’s dinner featured my two favorite things, well three actually.. no four, yes four of my favorite things: Sweet Potatoes, Black Beans, hot peppers, and cornbread. The last one was accompanying our meal, but still..
Black beans and Sweet Potatoes make the most wonderful combination. I invite you to create new ways to use these together. I have put them in everything, usually with a southwestern twist, but they have found their way into burritos filling, enchiladas, soups, stews, casseroles… I wish I could tell you the list goes on, but it stops there.. Believe you me I am thinking of ways to put them into just about anything.
I guess my love of black beans and sweet potatoes goes back to when I was first learning to cook vegetarian and a pan of sweet potato-black bean enchiladas made my family swoon. For the record, I am the only known vegan in my family, and I am also the cook of the family. So when I decided to go veg, so did my family (at least when I am doing the cooking). I have tried all sorts of recipes on them, some great, some not so hot.. But those enchiladas were and continue to be the most requested meal I make. So, in order to mix it up a bit, I like to take that combo to different degrees. Tonight I feature them in a soul-satisfying chili.
We recently received quite a winter snow storm, and soup was definitely on my mind. Something to warm the belly after a long day of play. But with winter storms comes icy roads, crazy drivers, and low visibility… Translation: Gotta work with what I got. Luckily, I had made a huge batch of black beans earlier and I always keeps sweet potatoes on hand. So Chili was born.
Sweet Potato-Black Bean Chili
1 purple onion, diced
1 carrot, chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
3 cloves garlic, or more to taste, minced
1-2 dried chili peppers, to taste, minced
5-6 cups vegetable stock
4 cups black beans, or 3 cans, drained and rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 TBSP cumin
1 tsp Cayenne
1-5 shakes liquid smoke, optional, to taste
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Garnish with a dollops of Tofutti sour cream and chives
In a large soup pot, saute onions in a bit of oil or veg broth until translucent. Add carrots, celery, sweet potato, garlic and chili pepper, heat, stirring occasionally, until carrots lose some crispness, about 5-7 minutes. Add vegetable stock, tomatoes, black beans, cayenne, cumin, stir to combine and cover. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let the pot simmer for about 45 minutes or longer. Really it can be 30 minutes, but I like to have all the flavors combine and allow the beans and potatoes to give off some starch and thicken the sauce a bit. In the last 20 or so minutes add liquid smoke. This gives it a bbq flavor and just another level of depth. If you do allow it to simmer for a while, make sure to add more stock or water if it becomes too thick. The chili is done when the sweet potatoes are soft and the broth is a bit thicker. Serve with sour cream and some skillet cornbread. YUM! This recipe makes a big ol’ pot of chili, enough for dinner, and then leftovers(x2).. OR, invite over some friends and enjoy it together. But, This recipe is even better the next day!
A note about Cornbread:
I love cornbread. It is my favorite, and whenever I make it, I can’t stop eating it. Tonight I make skillet cornbread by using my go-to cornbread recipe, which is the consistency of pancake or cake batter, and pouring it into a piping hot cast iron skillet. I heated the skillet in the oven while it was preheating to 425 and then I melted 1/2 TBSP earth balance in said mini iron skillet. Placed it back in the oven to make sure it was good and hot, then took it out, poured the batter in, and put it right back in the oven. The hot skillet creates a crust on the bottom of the cornbread so it is crunchy and delicious, much like a really thin crouton layer.. Always a welcome surprise.
This recipe is satisfying and healthy to boot.. I leave you with that! Stay warm!