Vegetarian Chili -- You Won't Miss the Meat!

Balanced flavors from vegetables and spices make up for the missing meat in this vegetarian chili recipe. A can of beer (or vegetable broth if you prefer), adds another tasty layer.

Every cook should have a first-rate chilly recipe in his or her repertoire and this vegetarian chili fits the bill. Its chock full of beans, vegetables, flavor, and spices. In fact, this chili is so flavorful that you'll never miss the meat. Try this recipe for your next get together. It serves 8 and can easily be doubled. The secret to making chili is to prep all your ingredients before cooking. First the beans-- you can use pinto beans, black beans, white kidney beans, or red kidney beans, or you can use any combination for color and flavor variation. Drain and rinse three 15-ounce cans. And now the vegetables-- seed and chop one medium red or green sweet pepper. You'll need one cup. Next, peel and chop one medium onion. You'll need 1/2 cup. Chop one medium zucchini. You'll need one cup. Next, mince 3 cloves of garlic. Set the vegetables aside. Over medium-high heat, add one tablespoon of vegetable oil to a 5 to 6-quart Dutch oven. Heat the oil. Add the sweet pepper, the onion, and the garlic. Cook and stir until the peppers and onion become tender, about 5 minutes. Next, add two 26-ounce cans of diced tomatoes including their juices. You can use either the plain diced tomatoes or the ones with chili spices added. Stir the tomatoes. Then stir in one 12-ounce can of beer or, if you prefer, one 14-ounce can of vegetable broth. Next, add one cup of water, one 8-ounce can of tomato sauce, 3 to 4 teaspoons of chili powder, one tablespoon of fresh oregano or use a teaspoon of dried crushed oregano, one teaspoon of ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper, and if you like, several dashes of hot pepper sauce. Stir everything together and bring the chili to a boil. Cover it, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer it for 10 minutes. Stir in the beans, then 2 cups of fresh or frozen whole kernel corn, and zucchini. Return the chili to a boil then reduce the heat to low and simmer it uncovered for 10 minutes longer. If you like, have one cup of shredded cheddar or Monterey jack cheese on hand and sprinkle each bowl with about 2 tablespoons of cheese. You can also get creative and have other toppers, like avocado chunks, chopped green onions, a dollop of sour cream, or sliced black olives. Tortilla chips are always fun too.