I’m not great at making New Year’s resolutions. The moment I start creating rules for myself is the moment I start breaking them. You’ll notice we’re not even having this conversation until January 3rd, two days late.
That being said, our family needs to take (baby) steps away from the junk. *Confession* I have been eating pork rillettes on toast for breakfast every morning since Christmas Day, and my kids are now eating dessert after breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Today, I actually caught them both peeling stale skittles off the roof of the crumbling gingerbread house and eating them by the handful.
So, I started us off today, January 3rd, with a recipe I use every time we need to get back on track: Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili. I used to make this on my days off when I was working as a cook and needed a break from restaurant food. It’s substantial but vegetarian, flavorful, but not full of fat. It’s actually a vegan recipe, but the acid from the tomato and lime juice begs for some sour cream or sharp cheddar cheese to take the edge off, and I always oblige.
Since I’m in the mood to confess, I will also admit that my kids don’t love beans, so I usually doll their portions up with guacamole and salsa and wrap it all up in a corn tortilla. Out of sight, out of mind…
The recipe originally comes from The Great American Detox Diet, by Alex Jamieson. I bought the book when I was in culinary school and trying to learn about vegan food and flavorful alternatives to cooking with fat. Somewhere along the way, I lent it out or lost it, but I committed this recipe to memory, tweaked it here and there and made it my own over the years.
I didn’t have any sweet potatoes this time around, so I substituted butternut squash. It was still good in a pinch, but the creamier texture of the potatoes makes them the better choice. I also added a cup of chickpeas that were in the refrigerator and needed to be used up. I liked the texture, so I added this into the recipe, but they can just as easily be left out.
Just so I don’t get all New Year’s Resolution-ey on you, I took all that fiber and vegetable goodness and covered it up with guacamole, salsa, cheddar cheese and sour cream. Did I mention I love toppings? Oh, and I put the whole thing over brown rice, so the vegetarians among us get that extra boost of essential amino-acids.
Now that I’ve started eating vegetables again, I might as well go and clean out all my drawers. Then, maybe, I’ll start working out again…
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ red onion, diced small
- ½ red bell pepper, diced small
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 cups sweet potatoes (or butternut squash), peeled and diced medium
- Zest of ½ a lime
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 10 grinds black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cocoa powder
- Juice of ½ a lime
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- ½ cup water
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup of canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- Brown or white rice for serving
- Guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and cheddar cheese, for serving
- Heat the oil in a four- to five-quart pot over medium heat. Add the onion and red bell pepper and cook 5 minutes, until translucent and starting to soften. Add the garlic and cook two minutes more. Add the potatoes (or squash) and the lime zest and stir. Cook, covered, for ten minutes, or until the potatoes soften. Add the spices (cumin through cocoa powder) and stir to combine. Add the canned tomatoes, lime juice and water, cover, and cook ten minutes. Add the beans and cook five minutes more. Turn off the heat, stir in the cilantro, and serve with your favorite toppings. Add additional salt and pepper to taste. This soup is great reheated (for up to three days) and can be frozen for up to three months. I like to make double-batch and freeze half of it.