Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bean and Sweet Potato Chili

I love creating healthy and hearty soups. Sweet potatoes are something that you might not normally find in soup, or in chili for that matter, but it works so well combined with these tomatoes, beans, and spices. We are getting into the season where sweet potatoes and other root vegetables are at their peak, so I'm always looking for new ways to use them.  This chili will please even guys who are used to meat and bean chili - it's hearty, spicy, and satisfying.

I used 2 serrano chiles here - one seeded and one left with the seeds left in - and found that it was the perfect amount of heat for me (if akin to salsa this would be medium spicy). However, if you like less heat, take the seeds out of both chiles, or if you like more heat, leave them all in. I cooked the sweet potatoes in the chili by simmering it for over an hour, but to cut down on the cooking time, you could either a) cook the sweet potatoes in the oven the night before, let cool, peel, cut up and throw in the soup, or b) peel, cut, and roast the sweet potatoes in the oven while the soup is simmering and add them in later - in either case you'd still want to simmer the soup for at least minutes once you add the potatoes to let the flavors come together.

Bean and Sweet Potato Chili
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 yellow onion, roughly diced
1 large pasilla pepper, diced
2 serrano chiles, 1 seeded and 1 left with the seeds in, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. ancho chile powder
2 t. ground cumin
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2'' pieces
1 28 oz. (or two 15 oz.) cans diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 c. vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can pinto beans
1 15 oz. can black beans

Heat 1 T. olive oil over medium heat in a large dutch oven or stockpot. Add the onion, pepper, chiles, and garlic and saute until softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, peel and cut the potatoes into approximately 1/2'' pieces (not too big or they will take a long time to cook). Add the potatoes, chile powder, and cumin to the pot and stir to combine. Cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the diced and crushed tomatoes, vegetable browth and beans and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer, and let cook for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.
If you'd like, serve with a dollop of sour cream, cheese, or some cilantro to top it off.

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