Fourth of July Parsnip Chili
This is a great 4th of July recipe here in Argentina, which for us is the dead of winter. (And Argentina’s Independence Day is July 9th, which is close enough.) But summer is also chili cook-off season in other parts of the world. Regardless of the time of year, this is the perfect recipe for any family event or large gathering of people. It's a very satisfying dish, which ensures that your vegans and vegetarians get full too. I like to make a pot of this for just of the two of us. It makes for easy meals all week, and freezes well too.
I have never been a big chili-person. Maybe because most ‘famous’ chili recipes tend to be based around meat, and the vegetarian ones often taste like a big bowl of cooked beans. (Not like I don’t like a bowl of beans and rice, but there are far simpler ways to do that.) Nor have I been a big buyer of parsnips. Not that I don’t like the taste of parsnips— they are wonderful roasted in salt and olive with other winter root vegetables (such as carrot, potatoes, and beets). But, in general, it’s hard to find a place for parsnips in many recipes, they have such a unique flavor.
All that said, the combination here is excellent. The parsnips make the chili interesting without overpowering it— creating a vegetarian chili that is definitely a cut above the average bowl of beans. Plus the rice gives it a lovely rich-stew thickness. It’s totally vegan and makes a great meal-in-a-bowl. No sides required (though you might like to add a few).
As for the beans, I have used red kidney beans, brown lentils, a combination of the two, as well as pinto beans. All came out great. I think chickpeas could work as well, I'm sure black beans would be good, and probably other beans I’m not even considering too. If you love beans, feel free to add more. I prefer them more as an accent here- and as a protein boost- rather than the main attraction.
I’ve gradually tweaked this recipe to where we really love it. So much so that the last time I made it, my husband commented on it not once, but multiple times.
Recipe for Hearty Vegan Parsnip Chili
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 large yellow onion- diced
4 cloves garlic- minced
2 medium carrots (approx hand length)- peeled and diced small
3 parsnips (approx hand length)- peeled and diced small
4 handfuls cherry tomatoes- whole
6 cups water or good-tasting stock
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup red wine
1 can stewed tomatoes (pre-diced or chop them up in the can)
1 small can tomato paste (about 1/4 cup)
1 cup brown rice (uncooked, rinsed)- I prefer Yamani, the Japanese short grain brown rice.
1.5 - 2 cups cooked and drained beans (red kidney, pinto, and/or brown lentils- canned or homemade)
In a large soup pot, start with the spices, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté a few minutes until fragrant and the onions are starting to soften, stirring regularly.
Add the prepared carrots, parsnips, and cherry tomatoes. Stir to combine well with the other ingredients and cook to heat through, about 5 minutes.
Add the water or stock (I used purified water and 1 cube good bouillon), the bay leaves, red wine, canned tomatoes, tomato paste, and uncooked brown rice.
Bring to a simmer and cook covered for about 40 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Stir occasionally to prevent the rice from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
Add the beans and continue cooking another 10 minutes or so.
At this point, when everything is tender, turn off the heat, and let the chili cool. It will be like molten lava and may need a good 15 minutes or longer with the lid off and some stirring to reach a level that is eatable. Feel free to make ahead and leave covered on the stove top. It will still be nice and warm over an hour later.
Serve with avocado and sides of choice... crusty bread, flour or corn tortillas (or quesadillas), tortilla chips, salad, etc. Or eat it straight-up as a complete meal in a bowl. We had it with gluten-free cobbler and it made the perfect weeknight meal.
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