Our weather has been a bit indecisive lately. Do I want to rain, or do I want to snow? Do I want to be -10 degrees or a rather balmy 36. It decided to be the latter yesterday, right before it rained for several hours. Luckily, before that happened, my daughter and I snuck in some backyard hide and seek, several hundred under-dogs on the swing set, and rousing game of PJ Masks. I got to be Owlette. No, I don’t expect you to have any clue about that last one, unless of course you have little ones around the ages 3 – 5. All I know is that we were both excited to get out of the house, without our noses and fingertips turning into little icicles.
Winter can be a tough time in the Mid-west. Not just because of all the shoveling, windshield scraping, and slippery snow driving, but because you start to feel a bit shut-in. Especially with young children. We brave the cold and suit up in our snow pants and puffy coats… as long as it isn’t “frostbite in 10 minutes” cold. Since it’s been cold enough to lose your digits for a couple weeks, the old cabin fever has been settling in. Winter in the Midwest. It can sure be a real test of character. The only reward for all of our hardship? Cozy cold-weather food. I’m talking oatmeal, hot chocolate (or both together), soups, stews, and thick, spicy, hearty chili.
Chili is one of the dishes I know will put a smile on 2/3 of my family. My husband and I love it, but my daughter not so much. Too “picy.” Anything with detectable seasonings, whether there is heat or not, lands on my daughter’s too spicy list. Although this chili has plenty of spice and flavor, to my shock and amazement, my daughter ate this up! So when I suggest that this chili will be universally adored, I mean it. Even discerning/persnickety three and a half year olds approve.
The key to the coziness of this plant-based chili is the luscious addition of homemade cashew cream. In searching for inspiration for this dish, the creamy looking one’s kept catching my eye. When I found this recipe on the interwebs, I just knew I had to healthify/vegan-ize it. I also added frozen organic sweet corn, as it just adds another layer of flavor and extra heartiness. Feel free to add whatever veggies suit your fancy. If you really like your mouth on fire when you eat your chili, bump up the cayenne pepper or add some chopped jalapeno. I kept this one fairly mild so as not to completely freak out my little aforementioned spice detector.
If you’re already tired of winter, hang in there my friends. I heard next week it’s going to be in the 40’s… an absolute heat wave! Also, only 66 days left until spring! That doesn’t sound so bad, right? If nothing else, you at least have cozy winter food to get you through.
Happy chili days my friends!
White Bean Chili – Vegan and Oil Free
Prep time: 10 minutes (not counting cashew soak time)
Cook time: 45 minutes
- 1 large yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 32 oz vegetable broth
- 4 – 15.5 oz cans, rinsed and drained (or about 7.5 – 8 cups cooked/drained) white beans, I used a combination of cannelini, navy, and garbanzo
- 4 oz can of green chilis
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 2 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp salt (start low and taste, adjust if needed)
- 1/4 tsp pepper or to taste
- optional – 1/4 tsp cayenne
- optional, for extra heat – 1 small seeded and chopped jalepeno
- optional – 1 cup of frozen white sweet corn
- 1/2 cup soaked cashews (soaked 2-4 hours)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
fresh cilantro to serve
Add 2 – 3 tbsp of water to a large pot and heat over medium until shimmering. Add the peppers, onion, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding an extra splash of water if needed.
Add remaining ingredients, except the soaked cashews and frozen corn, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, continue to cook for about 40 minutes.
While the chili is cooking, make the cashew cream. In a high speed blender, combine your soaked cashews with 1/2 cup of water and 1 tbsp of lemon juice. Blend on high until smooth, adding an extra 1/4 cup of water if needed.
At the 40 minute mark, stir in the frozen corn and cashew cream. Turn the heat up to medium and cook until heated through. Serve with fresh cilantro.
*You can sub 1 cup of dairy-free sour cream in place of the cashew cream, or feel free to leave it out.