Freezer Vegetarian Chili

Several years ago Navah and I read Barbara Kingsolver's Animal Vegetable Miracle, where the author narrates her family's year of local-eating.  They limited themselves to only food grown within one hundred miles of their Virginia homestead, so it makes sense that their kitchen was very season-specific.  Summer found it overflowing with a bounty of fruits and vegetables, literally drowning in piles of zucchini.  In Fall, they enjoyed crisp apples and some of the later vegetables and checked their pantry and freezer to make sure they had enough stored away for the winter.  

I adored the book and finished it with an overwhelming desire to hang garlic up to dry over my kitchen sink and hunt for morels on a hillside and buy bushels of tomatoes to freeze or can, to draw on all those years relishing the chore-filled, season-driven lives of the Little House on the Prairie clan.  

But at the time I was reading it, I was lying on a beach in Costa Rica, buying rice and beans for every meal from tiny little restaurants.  And by the time we were back home in our DC highrise apartment, I had forgotten.  

Perhaps one day I'll lead a life so close to the earth that my kitchen will follow the seasons, and I'll finally become one with my inner Laura Ingalls Wilder.  But now the days fly by me so fast most of the time.  A season's gone before I realize that my canning pot hasn't moved from the top of the refrigerator.  

So when I stepped outside to walk Jammer about a week ago and had to run back in for a warmer jacket, the thought that came right after "ooh, it's FALL!" was "ooh, I need to FREEZE something!"

With a potluck on the calendar for that evening, a giant pot of chili seemed like a winner.  I could make a big enough batch that I'd have enough to bring to the potluck and enough to freeze for some cold winter night down the road.

And a big batch it was.  We brought about seven servings to the potluck and were able to put at least that many in the freezer.

Freezer Vegetarian Chili

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion
1/2 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon ground pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1/4 teaspoon chipotle chili power
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 cloves garlic 
2 fifteen-oz cans of kidney beans
2 fifteen-oz cans of black beans
2 fifteen-oz cans of navy beans
1 fifteen-oz can of Amy's medium chili with vegetables (my "secret" ingredient)
1 eight-oz can of tomato sauce
four tomatoes
1 each green, red, and yellow pepper
1/2 bag frozen corn
1 cup bulgur wheat

1.  Dice the onion and saute in a large pot over medium heat in the olive oil.  Add in the salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic, and half the cumin.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for about five minutes, or until the onions begin to soften and turn clear.  

2.  Add in the chopped peppers and tomatoes.  Cook together for about five minutes.

3.  Add in the beans, tomato sauce, corn, bulgur wheat and remaining spices (including the other half of the cumin).  Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Let cook with the top on for 1-2 hours, checking occasionally to be sure the bottom isn't burning.  

It's so simple but really delicious.  Once the soup cools, ladle it into your freezer-safe containers and look forward to pulling some out on a cold night this winter!


Broccoli Arugula and Squash Soup

It's a little strange to be sharing a soup recipe in July, I suppose.  There are some of you will set this aside for the winter, but soup's an all-year-round dinner for me.  It's not what I reach for in the middle of the day when I'm sitting outside in the sun.  But at night, when I'm cozied in for the evening, soup is comforting - especially on those nights up here where things really cool down.  

I made this soup when I was doing a cleanse a couple years ago, and then I forgot about it.  I remembered it when I did the cleanse this time, and now, with a few modifications, it has become a staple of our diet.  

The coolest thing about it is that - for the most part - it's incredibly seasonal.  All the veggies in this pot came from the farm CSA that we got while we were housesitting.  

Broccoli Arugula and Squash Soup
Adapted from GOOP

One onion, chopped
One head broccoli, chopped
One zucchini, chopped
One summer squash, chopped
4 cups vegetable broth
One can coconut milk
Two cups arugula
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In large pot over medium heat, saute onions in olive oil with salt and pepper for 3 - 5 minutes.
2.  Add in the broccoli, zucchini, and summer squash and saute, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes. 
3.  Pour in the vegetable broth and bring to boiling.  Then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10-15 minutes.  
4.  Pour in the coconut milk and the arugula, adding more salt and pepper at this point if necessary.
5.  Using either an immersion blender or a traditional blender, blend the soup until smooth.  (If you're using a traditional blender, blend in small batches or allow the soup to cool before blending so that you don't blow the top off your blender.)
6.  Serve with a little dollop of coconut cream (or sour cream or yogurt if you can do dairy) and a slice of crusty bread. 

The blend of the broccoli and peppery arugula with the creamy coconut milk is absolutely delicious. And the zucchini and squash give it a little more substance.

I hope you enjoy!


Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 5
A couple nights ago, I walked into my apartment and headed straight for the kitchen to prep the white bean and pumpkin chili that I'd been planning to make.  It's one of my absolute favorite meals but one that takes a bit of prep time and a fairly long ingredient list.  I had taken some roasted pumpkin out of the freezer a few days before, but I just hadn't gotten to it yet.  Since I didn't have quite enough pumpkin, I was planning to supplement with a can of butternut squash I had in the cabinet.

As I started to take out the ingredients, I realized that the can of butternut squash was actually a can of sweet potato puree.  And then that I only had one can of white beans (I still think someone came in and stole the others - I just KNOW I had more than that).  And then I pulled out the pumpkin from the fridge, and .... yep, moldy. pumpkin and white bean chili.  But what seemed to be a tragedy of epic proportion (I really wanted that chili) turned out to be a great opportunity.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 1
I'd already pulled out the tomatoes and the red peppers, and they were staring up at me from the cutting board.  The skin on the red peppers was starting to wrinkle ever so slightly, so I knew they wouldn't be around for long.  I did some quick thinking about what I could make with what was sitting in front of me (not generally my forte), and since I had my heart set on something soupy, I threw this together:

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup

3 tomatoes (I had beefsteaks, but I think 6-8 romas would be delicious)
2 red peppers
2 tsp minced garlic (or 2 cloves)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cracked pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 small or 1 large onions
2 cups vegetable stock

1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2.  Cut up your tomatoes and red peppers.  There's no science to this - do what works.  I quartered the tomatoes and cut the red peppers in half, removing the seeds and stems.
3.  Place them on a rimmed baking pan.  Sprinkle on the garlic, salt, and pepper.  Pour on the olive oil.  Make sure everything's coated.  It should be a slippery affair.
4.  Let roast for 30 minutes, checking occasionally. 
5.  While the tomatoes and red peppers are roasting, cut up an onion and saute over medium heat in the bottom of a soup pot with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Once the onion's looking soft and clear (about 5 minutes), pour in the vegetable stock and let that simmer on low.
6.  When the vegies come out of the oven, pour your tomatoes into the soup pot, but keep out the red peppers.  You'll want to let those cool a bit so that you can peel off the skins.  They'll come right off.
7.  Once the skins are peeled, throw in the red pepper.
8.  Using either an immersion blender (what I use) or a regular blender, blend it all together.  If you're using a regular blender, be careful to do small batches so that you don't blow the lid off your blender (which I have done).

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 2
The soup did not disappoint.  With a surprisingly rich and creamy flavor, it's like an adult version of your regular ol' tomato soup.  I paired mine with some pita bread, but I think a grilled cheese sandwich would be the perfect complement.  You could even serve this for company if you made "fancy" grilled cheese with gruyere or gouda or some other fancy g-named cheese.  Ooh, now I'm hungry.

I imagine making a huge batch and freezing portions to take out on particularly snowy mornings so that it'll be ready for a quick simmer on the stove when we get home. 
Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup 6
What do you make to keep you toasty warm on those cold days?