Now that the days are getting shorter and the times are getting spookier, I crave something more than a salad. I also crave some extra cheerfulness. Nothing says cheery AND spooky like a pumpkin carving party.
In fact, my famous chili has its origins in the first pumpkin carving party I hosted—too many years ago to count. Let’s just say it was during the carefree 80s. I’ve never really written the recipe down because it is half chili themed and half time to clean out the refrigerator. I won’t lie to you. This is a chop fest. Your knives will get a workout. That said, there are some standard items that I always include and those that make the occasional guest appearance. I’ll talk more about those at the end.
Without further ado, I give you the recipe that feeds 16 hungry pumpkin carvers with no problem at all.
Maureen’s Famous Veggie Chili
(veggies in order of appearance)
- 1 butternut squash
- 4 medium onions
- 2 large carrots
- 5 celery stalks
- 3 sweet potatoes
- 3 parsnips
- 1 poblano pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 1 tomato
- 5-6 garlic cloves
- 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 16 oz frozen corn
- 2 15.5 oz cans of beans, rinsed
- 3 heaping Tablespoons cumin seeds
- 3 heaping Tablespoons paprika
- 3 heaping Tablespoons oregano
- 1 dash cayenne pepper
- More salt than makes you comfortable
- I start by chopping the butternut squash into bite-sized squares, because this takes the longest. Chop and set aside.
- Chop and saute onions for about 3 minutes. Add cumin seeds, paprika and oregano (the three ingredients that are the foundation of all chilis) and dash of cayenne. Saute for a minute of two more.
- While onions are sautéing, chop carrots then add to onions. I add the salt now. It helps break down the veggies.
- Chop celery then add. Add the squash now, too.
- Peel and chop sweet potatoes then add. Go through the rest of whatever vegetables you are going to include—Chop. Add. Chop. Add.
- When all veggies are in the (very big pot, did I mention this?), add the crushed tomatoes, corn and beans. I used black beans and chick peas this time. Pick your favorites to add.
- Cook for about 4 hours. Stir every half hour or when you remember. When the carrots are of the consistency that you like, the chili is done. Some of it will likely burn to the bottom of the pot. Get over it and soak overnight in soapy water. It will all work out.
While all of this stuff is optional, the chili can be served with rice, a selection of hot sauces, marinated jalapeno slices (the kind used for nachos), grated cheddar cheese, sour cream, chopped onions, tortilla chips, lime juice, cilantro. The list is pretty much endless and depends on what you like—or have in your kitchen. Enjoy!
As promised, my go to vegetables for a normal vat are squash/pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, a pepper of whatever color and parsnips. (Onion and garlic go without saying). Everything else is the same from crushed tomatoes down. A note to the wise, I would seriously avoid adding cabbage-like veggies, such as broccoli or Brussels sprouts. Potatoes, zucchini, leeks, anything like that is fine. This freezes easily and provides tasty lunch/dinner options if you have leftovers.