Hearty Sweet Potato Chili
Well it’s February and winter (… I mean real winter) has finally rolled in.
It is the kind of weather for hearty comfort foods like soups, stews, root veggies, mashed potatoes, and – you guessed it – CHILI!
The East Coast had a nice-sized snowstorm and it has been pretty cold here in San Diego. My husband and I did some yard work for our grandparents last weekend in actual sweatshirts. It reminded me of the “chilly” winter season where I grew up in Northern California – especially since it involved the weekly scooping of dead leaves.
Last week I visited my dad in Chicago. I had no idea what cold really was until then.
I mean, I knew it was going to be a bit chilly outside, but since it would take all of 15 seconds to reach the car, I never assessed the fact that I was not wearing cold weather gear. The moment I left the safety of the airport and took my first breath of unbelievably icy air, a million daggers stung my lungs and throat, prompting an involuntarily coughing fit. My lungs froze a little more with each breath I took. My jeans started to freeze and become totally frigid. My brain refused to work as my dad put my bag in the trunk and I sunk into the warm sanctuary that was the front seat.
It was three degrees Fahrenheit.
Having just come from Costa Rica, it was all especially shocking.
It’s the kind of weather that makes you just want to curl up in a big comfy armchair in front of the fire, warming your hands with a bowl of hot chili goodness, breathing in the earthy scent of the wood crackling in the fireplace, watching the snow fall softly in the night outside your window, blanketing everything in this romantically soft pillow of pure, sparkling white.
Or maybe this vision is from before electricity and central heating…
In that case, I can imagine making chili in a pot over the same fire that heats the home, scooping out bowls of the bone-warming nourishment for the family, and topping them with my favorite fresh toppings. Once again, holding the warm bowl to heat my hands and looking out the window as the snow fell.
Of course… I wouldn’t be imagining how unbelievably cold that beauty actually is (I’m thinking somewhere around the temperature Jack and Rose experienced when they took a midnight dip on their Titanic cruise) because like I said, I am warm and cuddly on the couch with that chili in my mitts.
This chili recipe is especially phenomenal. Contrary to popular belief, chili doesn’t need meat to have an incredible flavor profile if you have the right plant-based ingredients. The tomato paste adds this stewed-for-hours depth of flavor. The sweet potatoes give a beautifully hearty texture, with a touch of sweetness that compliments the savory perfectly. The cumin creates a gorgeous scent and gives a mildly spicy flavor. It’s comforting, tasty, and satisfyingly filling.
You can top this dish with so many yummy things. Think about the textures and fresh flavors you’d like to use to compliment the warm, soft, hearty chili. The garnishes we photographed with the food are only a few of the amazing options you can choose from. It really depends on your unique taste and the kind of flavor profile you’re trying to develop.
Hope you try it because we know you’ll love it.
- 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 medium-large sweet potato, peeled and diced small
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 green bell pepper, cleaned and diced
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 3 tbsp ground cumin
- 2 tsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cup of water
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can of diced tomatoes
- 1 can of tomato paste
- In a pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.
- Add onion and bell pepper and cook until the onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add sweet potatoes and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.
- Add chili powder, cumin, paprika and salt; stir and cook for about a minute.
- Add water and bring to a simmer until the sweet potato is tender; about 7-9 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, tomato paste, black beans, and maple syrup; increase heat to high and return to a simmer, stirring often. Make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.
- Reduce heat and simmer until sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.
- Remove from heat, top with your favorite garnish, and enjoy.
- Red or white onions
- Green onions
- Bell peppers
- Black olives
- Pico de gallo
- Salsa (both red or green)
- Vegan sour cream or yogurt
- Peas (frozen)
- Nutritional yeast
- Fresh lime juice
- Raw sweet corn
- Brown rice