3 Chili Recipes To Warm Up Your Winter05:37
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Winter vegetable chile. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Winter vegetable chile. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

There is endless debate over what constitutes “real chili.” Do you spell it chili or chile? (I prefer chile). Do you like it super spicy or mild, thick or thin, with or without beans, with or without tomatoes? So many options.

But no matter how you make it, chile is the perfect winter food. Here are three variations.

Winter Vegetable Chile

Butternut squash, sweet parsnips, leeks, onions and chickpeas are the base of this vegetable-driven chile. The seasonings include chile powder, cinnamon, ginger, cilantro and hot pepper sauce. For an extra kick of flavor and texture, roast some chickpeas with cumin and chile pepper and sprinkle on top of the chili. It can be made two days ahead of time or frozen for up to a month.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 leek, white and light green sections thinly sliced
  • Salt and fresh ground black pepper
  • About 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • About 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • About 3/4 teaspoon chile powder
  • About 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 small butternut squash, about 1 1/2 pounds, peeled, deseeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Splash hot pepper sauce

Toppings: avocado cubes, chopped scallions, sour cream and roasted chickpeas (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. In a medium to large pot, heat the oil over low heat. Add the garlic, onions and leek and cook, stirring, for 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper and half the cumin, ginger, chile powder and cinnamon. Stir and cook about 30 seconds. Add the squash, carrots and parsnips, and stir into the spices; cook 2 minutes. Raise the heat to high and add the celery, tomatoes, chick peas and broth and bring to a boil. Add half the cilantro, reduce the heat to low and whisk in the remaining cumin, ginger, chile powder and cinnamon. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, partially covered, for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the squash and carrots are just tender and not falling apart. Add the vinegar and a splash of hot pepper sauce; season to taste.
  2. Serve hot sprinkled with the remaining cilantro, avocado cubes, scallions, sour cream and roasted chickpeas, if desired.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

This is a great topping for any chile or soup. Makes 1 cup.

  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas, drained, rinsed, drained again and thoroughly dried
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon chile powder salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a bowl, toss the chickpeas with the oil, cumin, ginger, cinnamon and chile powder to taste, salt and pepper.
  2. Place on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until they begin to turn brown, begin to pop, and crisp up. Let cool. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for a day.

Beer, Beef And Pinto Bean Chile

Beer, beef and pinto bean chile (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Beer, beef and pinto bean chile (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This is a hearty stew, made with cubes of beef stew, and ground meat, with lots of spices, garlic, onion, beer and pinto beans.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced or coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, 2 thinly sliced and 2 chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • About 1 teaspoon ground oregano
  • About 1 teaspoon dried or fresh thyme
  • About 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • About 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 pound beef stew, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound ground beef
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 12 ounces beer (or non-alcoholic beer)
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken or beef broth
  • One 15.5 ounce can of pinto beans, drained, washed and drained again

Accompaniments: sour cream, grated aged cheddar cheese, hot pepper sauce, scallions, lime wedges

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over low heat. Add the onion and half the garlic and cook, stirring, 6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and add the oregano, thyme, cumin and chile powder, and cook 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a plate.
  2. Place flour on a plate and season liberally with salt and pepper. Dredge the beef stew meat in the seasoned flour.
  3. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in the same pot over moderately high heat. Brown the stew meat for 2 minutes; flip the meat over and add the ground meat. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes, breaking up the meat until browned. Add the tomato paste and remaining garlic and cook another minute, stirring to coat the meat. Add the beer, tomatoes and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, partially cover and cook 30 minutes. Stir in the beans, and simmer another 15 minutes. Season to taste adding more spices, salt or pepper as needed. Serve with any or all of the accompaniments.

Chorizo Chile With Salsa Verde And White Beans

Chorizo chile with salsa verde and white beans (Jesse Costa/WBUR)
Chorizo chile with salsa verde and white beans (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

This no-tomato chile is full of bright flavors and lots of greens. Spicy chorizo sausage is removed from its casing and sautéed with onions and garlic, cilantro and parsley. Bottled salsa verde is simmered along with chicken stock and then tossed with cooked white or pinto beans.

It takes less than an hour to make and is full of big flavors. Serve on white rice.

Serves 2 to 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound fresh spicy chorizo sausage, removed from casing (simply squeeze the meat out of the casing and discard casing)
  • 1 jalapeño or green chile, finely chopped with or without the seeds (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde (I used Trader Joe's)
  • 1 2/3 cups chicken broth
  • One 15.5 ounce can white beans or pinto beans, drained, washed and drained again

Accompaniments: white rice, chopped scallions, chopped fresh cilantro and parsley, hot pepper sauce

Instructions

  1. In a medium pot heat the oil over low heat. Add the onions and half the garlic and cook, stirring, for 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Raise the heat to moderately high and add the chorizo and cook, stirring, for 6 minutes. Add the remaining garlic, the chopped chile pepper, half the cilantro, half the parsley and cook, stirring to coat the meat for 2 minutes. Stir in the salsa verde and then the broth; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, stir, and simmer partially covered for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans and the remaining cilantro and parsley and simmer, partially covered, for another 15 minutes. Serve hot over rice sprinkled with any or all of the accompaniments.

Want to add more heat? Serve any of these recipes with a hot sauce so diners can adjust to taste (We used Burn Fermented Hot Sauce).

This segment aired on January 9, 2020.

Related:

Kathy Gunst Twitter Here & Now Resident Chef
Kathy Gunst is a James Beard Award-winning journalist and the author of 15 cookbooks.

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