Soup is one of our favorite meals. We look forward to summer ending every year because we have a tripod and iron soup pot that we use to make soup over a bonfire. Now that we are vegetarians, many of our favorite soups are just memories...chicken noodle, white chicken chili, Italian wedding soup, beef chili, minestrone...and the list goes on and on!
We had to do some searching to come up with new recipes that fit into our new healthy lifestyle, but would still have great taste and appeal. Fortunately we have found two great chili recipes that are so hearty and delicious that we rarely even think about the soups we have given up!
This sweet potato & black bean chili is so good and only gets better the longer is sits. The added benefits it provides make it our new favorite soup! Macular degenertion runs in my family. I have several relatives who lost their sight due to the disease and I've done some research on my own to find foods that help prevent the disease. Vegetables rich in beta carotene...carrots, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes all have proven benefits, showing a definite preventative effect. Because of this, we eat lots of carrots, and try to have butternut squash or sweet potatoes at least once or twice a week, if not more!
The first thing you need to do to make this recipe is to peel and cube the sweet potato, then drizzle with the olive oil and salt, and roast it, which gives each piece a nice little crust. It amps up the flavor as well, but taking time to do this step keeps the potato from breaking down in the soup. It's a simple task which can be done while all the other prep work is done, and makes all the difference in the success of the soup! I also use a roasted poblano pepper instead of the jalapeno because my husband doesn't like it too spicy. I set the pepper right on the open flame of my gas stove to blacken and char the skin, then place in a closed baggie for a few minutes and the skin will peel right off.
Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili
2 lbs. sweet potato peeled and cubed
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbs Olive Oil
Toss the potato in oil, add salt, and roast at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Set aside
In 1 Tbs Olive Oil saute:
1 diced onion
4 minced cloves of garlic
1 red bell pepper
1 diced jalapeno (I use a roasted poblano)
After sauteing for 3-5 minutes, add to a soup pot along with:
2 Tbs chilli powder
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 can diced tomatoes ( I use 1 quart home canned smashed tomatoes)
1-2 cups of water
Salt to taste
1 tsp. cocoa powder
2 cans black beans ( smash one can with a fork or potato masher)
1 chopped chipotle pepper (leave out if you don't like spicy)
Simmer for 20 minutes...enjoy!
One more note! I cook my own black beans from dry beans. One 1 lb bag makes about the amount of 4 cans of black beans and doesn't have the high sodium found in canned beans. The cost for 1 lb is a little over $1, so the savings is enough to want to do it! Cover the beans with plenty of water and boil slowly for about 1 1/2 -2 hours. Leftovers freeze well!
PHOTOGRAPHER JEFF FROM SNAP IT PHOTOGRAPHY