Autumn Chili–You Won’t Even Miss the Meat

I’ve been preparing for my trip to Willmar, where I’ll be doing a couple of cooking demonstrations at their Women’s Expo on Saturday. One of the things I most look forward to when I travel to do these programs, is the opportunity to meet some of the people who read my column.

During my visit to Willmar, I’ll be meeting one very special person who likes to cook and who has been reading my column for a few years in the West Central Tribune and following my blog. We’ve been communicating by email for quite some time about meatloaf and muffins and all kinds of food. And today, this 94 1/2-year-old man is going to teach me how to make crullers. He says there’s nothing better to go with a cup of coffee. I’ve never eaten a cruller. I don’t know a thing about them, other than what my cruller teacher has explained to me. Have you ever had a cruller? Have you ever made crullers? Tell me about it in a comment.

I made a pot of Autumn Pumpkin, Black Bean and Lentil Chili. I’m taking a tall jar of the meatless, healthful chili to Mr. Cruller-Maker. He can store it in the refrigerator or freezer and just heat some up when he’s ready to eat it.

I’ve been making this chili for a few years. I kept the cumin toned down in the recipe, but when I make it for my own family, I kick up the heat factor with a full tablespoon of the cumin and add a tablespoon or so of chili powder, which isn’t in the original recipe.

I like to serve the chili with a dollop of sour cream on each serving and a sprinkling of chopped green onions, chives or cilantro. Tortilla chips can be crumbled over the top of each bowl, too. My husband likes to sprinkle some shredded Cheddar over the top of his chili.

It doesn’t take long to prepare Autumn Pumpkin, Black Bean and Lentil Chili. I cook a full cup of lentils which yields a little more than two cups of cooked lentils. I use a cup in the chili and freeze the remaining lentils for another time. I like stirring lentils into rice with some seasonings that depend on my mood at the time. Cooked lentils make a nice addition to soup, too.

You won’t even miss the meat in this chili. It’s a mixture full of texture and high on flavor.

I’ll be eating my first cruller this afternoon. And I’ll bet my new friend will be eating his first bowl of Autumn Pumpkin, Black Bean and Lentil Chili this evening.

Autumn Pumpkin, Black Bean and Lentil Chili

1 cup uncooked lentils                                    1 (15-ounce) can black beans,

2 cups water                                                           drained and rinsed

1 cup finely chopped celery                            1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

1 cup finely chopped carrots                           1 (28-ounce) can ground peeled tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped onion                            2 teaspoons ground cumin
Several cloves garlic, minced                          1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
2 tablespoons olive oil                                       Seasonings to taste
4 cups vegetable broth or chicken broth
Sour cream for garnish

Sort through lentils to remove any debris. Rinse the lentils. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Slowly stir in lentils. Reduce heat. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until tender.

Coat bottom of a soup pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add celery, carrots and onions. Sauté until the vegetables are tender. Add garlic and continue to sauté for 2 minutes. You don’t want the garlic to brown. Stir in black beans and pumpkin, continuing to stir until the pumpkin is blended into the mixture. Add cumin and paprika and stir to disperse into the vegetable mixture. Stir in tomatoes and bring mixture to a simmer.

Use an immersion blender to gently pulse about half of the vegetable mixture. I like to leave some texture to the soup. Add half of the vegetable broth (2 cups) to the soup mixture in the pot. Bring to a simmer. Gradually add broth until you achieve the texture you desire. Add 1 cup of fully cooked lentils. Simmer the soup, add spices and keep tasting until it’s just right. Serve piping hot with a dollop of sour cream.

10 thoughts on “Autumn Chili–You Won’t Even Miss the Meat

  1. Sue,
    “I kept the cumin and chili powder toned down”
    No chili powder is listed in the ingredient list.
    See you at Women’s Expo in Willmar!

    • Donna, the chili powder is not in the original recipe. Just cumin and paprika. The addition of more cumin and lots of chili powder kicks it way up. See you at the Expo!

  2. I am not a vegetarian, but I know a vegetarian, and I would like to cook hotdish for him. What on earth can I use instead of hamburger for hotdish recipes?

    (Also, I was hoping to find a good chili recipe for him, and this sounds perfect! Thank you so much!)

    • Kari, I’m not a vegetarian, either, but I do prepare two or three meatless meals each week. I find that legumes are a good substitute for ground beef. Lentils, especially, seem to add the look and texture of ground beef. Not the beef flavor, though. Maybe some others will give you some suggestions in the comments. I hope you will try this chili. We like it a lot.

  3. I would call it lentil and black bean stew. I have been to an authentic Texas chili cookoff and the word chili ( the dish) is not taken lightly. It can never be called chili if it includes beans of any kind. Tomato is even a controversial ingredient lol. Purists recognize only 3 ingredients…meat, chili powder (not the blend you get in a store but actual ground up chilis), and cumin. You’ve heard of the Soup Nazi? These folks are Chili Nazis!! lol

  4. Jeff E…….true story…that. But I don’t know any Texans that can make a decent Swedish Meatball with lotsa good gravy (unless they hail originally from Minnie-Sota LOL)

  5. Would you mind sharing how many this serves? I have a party coming up and I’d like to give it a try for the vegetarians coming.

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