Vegetarian Chili

What to do when vegetarian friends or relatives are coming to dinner? Good news-- they need not go chili-less. This recipe provides the good taste of chili plus the benefit of complete protein derived from the beans and the bulghur. Serve this brew topped with grated cheese for additional protein and flavor. (By the way, several years ago, the New York Times Sunday Magazine awarded this recipe, “the best Vegetarian Chili recipe”.)

Yields: 6 to 8 servings

2 ½ cups dried kidney beans, soaked overnight in water to cover

3 teaspoons salt

1 cup tomato juice

1 cup raw bulghur (cracked wheat available in some supermarkets and most health food stores)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 medium onions, coarsely chopped

4 medium cloves garlic, crushed

3 stalks celery, coarsely chopped

3 carrots, coarsely chopped

3 or 4 tomatoes, peeled seeded, and coarsely chopped

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2 Tablespoons ground hot red chile

3 Tablespoons ground mild red chile

1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided.

½ teaspoons dried Mexican oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Freshly ground black pepper to taste.

1 ½ green bell peppers, cored seeded, and coarsely chopped.

  1. Transfer the kidney beans and the water in which they soaked to a large heavy pot with straight sides. Add 1 teaspoon of the salt and boil with straight sides over high heat. Lower the heat and continue boiling the beans, partially covered, until tender, about one hour. Watch the water level and add more water if necessary, to keep the beans from scorching.
  1. Meanwhile, place the tomato juice in another saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Remove from the heat immediately and add the bulghur to the juice. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. It should be slightly crunchy. Set aside.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the celery, carrots, tomatoes, lemon juice, and all the spices (except ½ of the cumin)-including the remaining salt-to the onions and cook, covered, until the vegetables are nearly tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the bell peppers and continue cooking another 10 minutes
  1. Add the kidney beans, the water in which they cooked, and the bulghur to the vegetables in the large pot. Stir the mixture thoroughly and simmer for 30 minutes over low heat. The chili may be thick-add water as necessary and stir occasionally making sure the bulghur does not stick to the bottom of the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning.



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