Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Easy Three-Bean Chili with Kale

Despite our quickly graying skies, falling temps and threats of rain... I still love Fall... fleeting though it may be.

I try not to share this sentiment aloud until we are well out of our summer stint... usually a couple of great months of brilliant skies, verdant landscapes and a warmth that trumps the ever-dependable dampness we know so well and even the most web-footed Oregonian is conditioned to accept but is willing to temporarily forgo.

For a few short months (weeks, even), I relish the changes that Fall brings... the crispness in the air, the sometimes uncanny blue of the sky, the billowy white clouds, puffed and proud, the unbelievable beauty in the changing colors of the season, with leaves ranging from iridescent yellows to fiery reds. It's a season that demands boots, sweaters, scarves... and soup!

Though I'm not alone in my affinity for soup, I do realize that it might supersede that of any other dweller in my home, and so refrain from putting on a pot during what should be the warmer months of the year (May through August... if lucky). However, once the temps begin to drop, this position changes dramatically...

This particular recipe is for a chili... not a soup... but it counts, nonetheless, in my book.

Years ago, our favorite chili was meat-based, thick with ground sirloin or sausage. Then, when we gave up red meat, I revamped it to highlight turkey... and we were quite happy. Now, as we move more and more toward a more plant-based diet, I've come to really love this three-bean chili; one that gets tweaked a bit each time out... a little more fire in the chilies used, or a few more veggies dropped in. This particular version is just right with a moderate chili flavor; a simple combination of pinto, black and kidney beans; and a great tomato-based broth made warm and satisfying with a good dose of chili powder, paprika, red chili flakes, mild roasted green chilies, green pepper, and onions. And... of course... the kale. Kale has become a bit of a mainstay in our daily diet... and, so, why not in chili...

It's a satisfying chili... easy to make, and quick to the table... 30 minutes tops!

Though I don't necessarily relish the goodbye of summer, or the short, sweet season of Fall disappearing into what can sometimes be a long, damp winter (and oft times a non-existent Spring), I do love the fact that soups and chilies will blissfully buoy us until the season again turns to sun and warmth... then Fall, again.

Easy Three-Bean Chili with Kale
makes approximately 8 cups

1 cup finely diced yellow onion
1 cup finely diced green bell pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups chopped green kale (about 3 large stalks, center stalk removed)
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
3 tablespoons ground chili powder
1 tablespoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 14.5 ounce can unsalted fire-roasted diced tomatoes
4 cups water
1 tablespoon diced mild green chilies (canned)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

In a large dutch oven or heavy soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and bell pepper; sauté for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent. Add kale and continue to sauté, turning intermittently, until wilted; about 2 minutes. Add beans, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper; mix through. Add tomatoes, water, canned chilies and red pepper flakes. Simmer on medium low for approximately 20 minutes, to allow flavors to meld and chili to thicken a bit; stir occasionally. Season with additional salt, to taste.

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