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Hearty Vegetable Chili


My father loved to cook. Or maybe I should specify that my father loved to cook for the people he loved. I believe he expressed his love through this simple act of service. I lived with him on and off throughout college and law school over a period of about 8 years. “Darling, will you be in for dinner?” he called after me each morning. When the answer was yes, he walked back to his desk by way of the kitchen, stuck his nose in the deep freeze and pulled something out to thaw. And when I returned from school he asked “Are you hungry, darling?” The answer was always yes. I set the table as he finished dinner and opened some wine. We sat and he explained the menu. “Lovely, fresh trout baked with some lemon and dill from the garden. Some new potatoes done in a bit of butter. Don’t worry I just used a bit of butter, darling. And some fresh spring peas! Bon Appetit!”

Halfway through law school I moved out of my father’s house and in with a boyfriend. About 10 o’clock one night, after an argument with the boyfriend I returned to my father’s home to find him in the backyard sighting his rifle. He took one look at me and said “What’s the matter, darling?” I burst into tears and recounted the silly argument. He listened and then asked me if I would like to help him sight his rifle. I peered through the scope and trained the crosshairs on the tin can he had set up at the far end of the yard. With the first shot I felt instantly better and as we continued to shoot and laugh I forgot about the argument. Then he said “Would you like a hamburger, darling?”

Feeling full, relaxed and safe I was ready for bed. I stood up and lent to kiss my father on the cheek. He grabbed my hand and looking up at me said, “Darling, you know you can always come home if you need to.”


I made a big pot of this chili and have been using it to make delicious dinners for the ones I love all week. I will be posting the recipes for Vegetable Chili over Quinoa, Chili Enchiladas, Chili Stuffed Poblano Peppers and other good stuff over the next few days.

I ended up with many things from my father’s kitchen and one of them was a meat tenderizer. As I don’t do a lot of meat tenderizing I use it to smash garlic cloves. Instead of mincing each clove I give them a few good smashes.

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1 garnet potato, peeled and chopped
1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 carrots chopped
1 28 oz can whole or chopped tomatoes
1 14 oz can black beans, rinsed
1 14 oz can kidney beans, rinsed
A 1 inch piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 cup red, green or black lentils
1 bay leaf
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 zucchinis, chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Chili flakes to taste
10-12 cups broth
3/4 cup barley
3/4 cup bulgur

Cilantro, avocado and almonds to serve

Get out your two largest saucepans, one for the chili and one for the broth. As you chop the vegetables throw all the ends, scraps and skins into one of the saucepans and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then let simmer while you cook the chili. After it is strained you should have about 10-12 cups of broth.


In the other saucepan heat the oil and add the onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes and add the garlic and potatoes. Don’t worry if the potatoes and onions stick to the bottom of the pan. This is called fond and adds to the flavor. Add the carrots and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with their juice. Add the beans, ginger, lentils, bay leaf and spices. Give it a good stir and let cook for about 10 minutes. Add the bell peppers and zucchinis and let cook for another 5 minutes. Add enough broth to cover the vegetables, about 5 cups. Cook for 30-45 minutes. At this point ladle off 2-4 cups of the chili and set aside. This will be used to make the Vegetable Chili over Quinoa.

Add 3/4 cup barley and 3/4 cup bulgur. Add about another 4 cups of broth and cook for 45 minutes to an hour. At this point the chili should be thick and you should still have about 3 cups of broth.

This will last at least a week in the fridge. You will need to add some more broth or water to thin it out a bit when you serve. Top with avocado, cilantro and chopped almonds or sunflower seeds.

Makes about 10 servings.

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