Chili is a nice simple meal with not much prep work involved. Mostly you just have to wait for the beans to soak and then become tender. The chili is always worth the waiting though, since it is a good comforting that can be eaten throughout the year, no matter the season. There are always leftovers that you can enjoy later or use in other recipes, too, like tacos or a hearty soup with vegetables. Chili with beans and turkey is also full of vitamins and minerals and low in fat, but you you can make vegan chili, too. Chili is also a rather diverse and flexible food; you can use lentils, different kinds of meat, beans, and add vegetables. Here’s even a raw vegan chili recipe made with marinated vegetables over at Golubka. Each of your vegetable, protein and seasoning inclusions can vastly change the overall flavor of the dish. You can make your chili sweet, spicy, salty, thin, hearty, smooth or chunky.

Turkey Black Bean Chili
Adapted from Fantastic Black Bean Chili and Sizzling Black Beans Chili
Serves 16 or more

1 17-oz. pkg Sizzling Black Bean Chili (3 C dried beans)
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Large Yellow Sweet Onion, peeled, chopped
1 Large Red Onion, peeled, chopped
7 to 9 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 lb. Ground Turkey Meat
Dried Vegetable Mixture
Spice Packet
1 T Napa Valley Naturals Red Wine Vinegar or Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar
1 T Lime Juice
1 + 1 qts Filtered Water
2/3 C Medium Salsa Verde
1/2 to 2/3 C Salsa Fresca
2 Handfuls Red Fingerling Tomatoes, crushed
2 Handfuls Golden Cherry Tomatoes, crushed
1 – 1 1/2 C Fresh or Frozen Corn Kernels
4 T Better Than Bouillon Organic Reduced Sodium Chicken Base, dissolved in 1 qt hot water
Daiya Pepper Jack Cheese Shreds, optional garnish
Daiya Cheddar Cheese Shreds, optional garnish
Queso Fresco Cheese, crumbled optional garnish
Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet Sour Cream OR So Delicious Plain Greek Cultured Coconut Milk, optional garnish
Cilantro Springs, optional garnish
Scallions, sliced optional garnish
Lime, sliced optional garnish

Sort the chili bag contents to separate the dried vegetables from the beans. Discard any wrinkled, discolored, broken beans, and rocks. Even though the package directions does not call for soaking the beans, always, always, always soak your beans (unless they were pre-soaked and then dried) to get rid of the indigestible oligosaccharides that cause boating and gas. Pour in at least twice as much unsalted water as beans into a large pot, since beans double in size. Do not add any salt until near the very end of cooking; salt prevents the release of the indigestible sugars and the bean fiber from softening. Soak the beans overnight or at least between 8 to 12 hours. Bubbles will float to the top as the sugars are released. If you add salt to early or don’t soak the beans before cooking, they will take much longer and be harder to digest.

In an oiled stock pot or Dutch oven, saute the garlic and onions over medium heat until the onions become tender and translucent. Add in and brown the ground turkey, stirring with a long-handled spoon. Mix in the spices, beans, dried vegetables, vinegar, lime juice, and 1 quart of water. Cover and simmer for 1 hour on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the corn, tomatoes, salsas, dissolved bouillon, and 1 quart of water. Return the chili to a boil for at least two hours or until the beans are tender and the flavors are blended. Once the beans are soft, turn off the stove. Serve and garnish the chili in bowls to your liking.

We had our chili with a refreshing side salad, topped with red radishes and avocados in lime. You may have noticed that I included many garnish options. What do you like on your chili? I also thought about making gluten-free honey cornbread muffins with gluten-free cornmeal and gluten-free baking mix but ran out of time. Bob’s Redmill also makes a gluten-free cornbread mix, but the store we visited doesn’t carry it. A cornbread muffin recipe may be in a future post soon. 😉 How do you make your chili? Which garnishes do you use?