Curtis Stone’s Comforting Chili

Nothing takes the chill out of winter quite like chili.

A bowl of Curtis Stone's 5-veggie and 3-bean chili

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Hot or mild, thick or thin, beans or no beans — no matter how you make it, a hearty bowl of chili is one of winter’s ultimate comforts, with nearly universal ­appeal.

There are as many ways to make chili as there are cooks who make it. And everyone thinks their chili is the very best. That’s the beauty of chili — you can make it any way you like it.

Healthy, flavorful, and meat-free, 5-Veggie and 3-Bean Chili is packed with protein. And like with chiles, you have many varieties of beans to choose from. I reach for red kidney, garbanzo, and white beans. Visually, the colors and shapes of this trio make for a pretty presentation. Corn adds a bit of sweetness. Serve with warm tortillas, diced avocado, lime wedges, and fresh cilantro for a very traditional take on chili.

Light, easy to prepare, and mildly spicy, Chicken Chile Verde is one of my favorite comfort foods. I like to use the whole chicken, but you can use all white meat if preferred. The jalapeño and cayenne peppers give it some kick; the avocado and crumbled queso add some creaminess; lettuce and pumpkin seeds provide texture and crunch; and a squirt of lime brightens everything up.

Some like it hot, some not. Capsaicin is the compound in chiles that produces heat and that burning sensation. Peppers come in a variety of shapes and colors, and range from sweet to fiery hot. As a    general rule, the smaller the pepper, the spicier the chile. Too hot? Tone down the heat by removing the seeds from your chiles.

5-Veggie and 3-Bean Chili

(Makes 5 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 4 stalks celery, thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 4 teaspoons Mexican chili powder
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1 14-ounce can no-sodium tomato sauce
  • 1 14-ounce can each reduced-sodium red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, and white beans, drained, rinsed
  • 2 ears corn, shucked

Accompaniments: Warm corn tortillas, diced avocado, lime wedges, chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in medium pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until onions are translucent. Stir in chili powder. Add stock and tomato sauce.

Bring to gentle simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, ­uncovered, stirring ­occasionally, for 10 minutes to blend flavors.

Stir in beans and corn kernels. Simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until chili has thickened slightly. Season to taste with salt. Ladle chili into bowls and serve with tortillas and remaining accompaniments.

Make-Ahead: Chili can be made two days ahead, covered, and refrigerated. Rewarm gently, adding water to thin chili as needed.

Per serving

  • Calories: 533
  • Total Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated Fat: 2 g
  • Sodium: 441 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 76 g
  • Fiber: 20 g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 4 starch, 3 vegetable, 3.5 fat

Chicken Chile Verde

(Makes 6 servings)

Bowl of Chicken Chili Verde
Dress it up: Although garnishes can sometimes seem like little more than an afterthought, they play a key role in this mildly spicy green chili. (Ray Kachatorian)
  • 1 4 1/2-pound whole chicken, cut into 2 thighs, 2 drumsticks, 2 breasts, 2 wings
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 onion, cut into large pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 6 tomatillos (about 1 pound total), husked and rinsed
  • 4 jalapeño peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 scallions, green tops coarsely chopped, white bottoms thinly sliced and reserved for garnish
  • 1/4 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Garnishes

  • 1 cup shredded iceberg, romaine lettuce, or green cabbage
  • 1/4 cup crumbled queso fresco 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and sliced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste. In large heavy pot, combine chicken, broth, half of onion, and 2 garlic cloves and bring to boil over medium-high heat. As broth comes to boil, use spoon to remove scum that rises to surface. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer gently for 50 minutes, or until chicken pulls apart easily. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400°F.

Line baking sheet with foil. On baking sheet, toss tomatillos, jalapeños, remaining onion, and remaining 2 garlic cloves with olive oil to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and beginning to caramelize. Add scallion greens and pumpkin seeds to baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes, or until pumpkin seeds are toasted. Transfer from baking sheet to food processor. Add cilantro, cayenne, cumin, and lime juice and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

When chicken is tender, remove it from broth and set aside to cool slightly. Strain broth through fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Skim off excess fat that rises to top of broth. Return broth to pot and simmer for 10 minutes, or until reduced by one-third.

Meanwhile, as soon as chicken is cool enough to handle, remove meat, coarsely shredding it with your hands; discard bones, skin, and cartilage.

Remove reduced broth from heat. Stir in shredded chicken and tomatillo puree. Bring to simmer over medium heat, and simmer for 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle chili into bowls. Garnish with lettuce, queso fresco, avocado, cilantro, and reserved scallion whites. Serve with lime wedges.

Make-Ahead: Chili can be made up to two days ahead, cooled, covered, and refrigerated. Rewarm, covered, over medium heat.

Per serving:

  • Calories: 218
  • Total Fat: 11 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Sodium: 119 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 7 g
  • Fiber: 2 g
  • Protein: 23 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat,1 vegetable, 1 fat

Want more? Check out Curtis Stone’s Southwestern Chili at saturdayeveningpost.com/swchili.

Excerpted from Good Food, Good Life by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2015 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Recipes copyright © Curtis Stone

This article is featured in the January/February 2021 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Ben Dearnley

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