Sundays are typically my cooking and baking days. I spend hours in the kitchen testing recipes and creating new ones – and washing an endless pile of dishes. But, after I’m done, I have enough food to get me through the week, except for breakfasts (smoothie, anyone?) and the occasional dinner or lunch I squeeze in on Monday or Tuesday, respectively.
Last Sunday, I had already prepped a bunch of veggies, made dip for the veggies (or salad dressing with a little thinning), two muffin batches, and some brownies, so I was on the fence about more cooking. I knew I had veggie burgers and a few different kinds of soup in the freeze (I love freezing left overs!), and coupled with the fresh veggies and some fruit, I knew work meals could easily be taken care of. But then we got company. We never get company.
I can literally count on one hand the number of times we’ve had company in the year and a half I’ve lived here with Mr. M. And only one of those times, except for last Sunday, included my making food.
Anyway, back to our company. My mother-in-law stopped by on her way through the area while driving home from a traveling nursing gig she’d been doing in Montana for the past few months. (Before that, she’d been in Maine doing the same thing. Crazy!) We were happy to see her, of course; it had been over a year since either of us had seen her. She was a little surprised to see me – minus 60+ pounds. Apparently, I look a little different – ha ha.
To entice her to spend the night with us instead of staying in a hotel (like our company alone wasn’t enough – ha!), I went ahead and cooked dinner. So much for freezer meals all week 😉
I’d been tossing around an idea for bean and lentil veggie burgers, which I’ll share in another post, but I’d also been craving chili. That’s unusual. I never used to like chili. I used to pick out the beans and chunky tomatoes and leave everything else when we’d have it at home, and in later years, but before I became vegetarian, obviously, I used to occasionally like Wendy’s chili. I wanted a really thick chili with a lot of flavor but not a lot of heat (I don’t do heat, in case you haven’t noticed), so I thought about adding lentils to the beans and other goodies. And why not? I could make a big batch and use them twice. Score!
2 cans dark red kidney beans (about 3 cups), rinsed
2 cans mixed beans* (about 3 cups), rinsed
2 c cooked lentils (any variety except red will do – I used French or green)
1 giant jar mild or medium picante sauce or salsa (or 2 smaller jars)
1 can fire roasted tomatoes (about 1 cup)
1 c veggie broth
1 c diced onion
1 c diced carrot
1 c diced celery
1 c diced green bell pepper
4-5 cloves garlic, minced (or about 2 TBSP)
Seasonings to taste: salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder/granulated garlic, Mrs. Dash chipotle lime (my new fav!), etc.
In a large soup pot, saute onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot, celery in a little bit of veggie broth until tender. (I put the lid on the pot to help the softening.) You may want to add some seasonings here so the flavors have time to develop. Add beans, lentils, tomatoes, salsa and veggie broth. Bring soup to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover for thinner chili or leave uncovered for thicker chili. (You can also add broth to thin out your chili and make it more soup-like.) Season as you go until it’s just right. Serve once everything is heated through.
Makes 6 large servings (about two cups each)
* I used Kroger’s Private Select Organic Tri Bean mix, but you could use any bean or bean mix you like.
And, in case you’re wondering, this chili freezes (and thaws) really well!