there’s nothing quite like a big bowl of chili and a side of cornbread for a cold windy night — chili season is finally here. at my parent’s house, it was a frequent winter dinner dish and always vegetarian or vegan. on a few occasions i’d create my own ‘every bean chili’ in which i tried to include every bean under the sun into one warming tomatoey delight. for me, chili is all about them beans!
but sadly, cooking with beans and making chili in ukraine is a little bit more difficult than back home. i had to acquire chili spices, dried cilantro, ground cumin, dried black beans sent from america and scour the city for other canned beans. while the village stores sell dried beans, there’s only one white variant simply called ‘beans’. so when i decided to use my precious better-than-those-racist-village-white-beans beans, i knew it had better be a good recipe.
a couple weeks ago another volunteer friend, and fellow black bean lover, recommended this recipe to me swearing ‘it’s so GOOD’. it was also her excellent suggestion to add ginger to the recipe. trusting her cooking expertise, i went with it. things took a little longer than just opening cans like the original recipe calls for. i had to pre-soak my black beans and then cook them with bay leaf for 2ish hours the next day — not that it was a great effort or anything, in fact pre-soaking and cooking your beans with bay leaf or oregano cuts down on potential toots (not to mention you’re not producing much waste by using dried beans vs. canned).
the process for this recipe was beautiful — the color of the orange, oddity of the ginger root, a mix of multi colored beans, and the earthy warmth of the spices. (ideally i would have like to have captured more of the cooking process, but alas, the sun sets at 4pm and using artificial lighting for food photography just isn’t pretty). when all was finished, i served myself a bowl and a freshly baked corn muffin and immediately felt so at home. this chili is bountiful in beans, spicy from the ginger, and slightly sweet from the orange — and no wonder why my friend urged me to make this.
vegan three bean chili with orange and ginger
makes 6 servings
adapted from bon appetit
- 2 oranges
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cups chopped onions
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed
- one packet chili seasoning
- 4 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained (or 2 cups dried, cooked and rinsed)
- 1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, drained
- 1 15.5-ounce can northern beans, drained
- 1 cup corn
- 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- salt and pepper to taste
- hot pepper sauce (optional)
- chopped fresh cilantro
1.) grate enough orange peel to measure 1 1/2 teaspoons. juice oranges. peel and finely grate ginger.
2.) heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. add onions and sauté 5 minutes.
3.) mix in garlic and spices. add beans, tomatoes, tomato paste, corn, and half of orange juice. simmer over medium heat until heated through and flavors blend, stirring often, about 15 minutes. add a little water if too thick for your liking.
4.) mix in orange peel, grated ginger, and remaining orange juice. season to taste with hot sauce, salt, and pepper. ladle chili into bowls and top with vegan (or non-vegan) sour cream and cilantro. enjoy!