My daughter is the first of five children to head off to college (sniff, sniff). My husband and I were recently discussing the changes this has brought to our family dynamic (aka bank account) and we came to the shocking realization we have been eating out way too much. I defended such behavior with the classic mother quote, “I am WAY too busy to cook.” In all honesty, between sports tournaments every weekend, college applications, graduations and work travel, we had become lazy, but seven (now six) of us eating out is a real blow to the family budget.
After eye rolling and some tense discussion, I agreed to go back to my pre-“too busy” mode and plan out our weekly meals. The savior of all active, crazy-scheduled families is the slow cooker. I am on a constant mission to have our kids eat healthy without actually knowing they are. This chili is both healthy and super easy.
Upon serving this chili for dinner, my husband slipped and referred to this dish as “vegetarian,” which made our three boys turn their heads so fast I thought they’d snap off. But I quickly exclaimed it was NOT vegetarian (it contains chicken broth) and they resumed eating. It is meatless, but adding sausage or ground beef would be easy. It makes great use of all the veggies that are still abundant this time of year. And the best part for me? I prepped it the night before, dumped everything in the crock and just added beans in the morning before heading off to work. This slow cooker veggie chili (If you have boys like mine, call it something like Cowboy Chili so you won’t let on it’s healthy) makes a big batch, so it is perfect for freezing or to make for a crowd. And if you do want it to be vegetarian, just substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock. It doesn’t get easier than this.
- 3 cups chopped onion, divided
- 3 cups chopped red and yellow bell pepper, divided
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro stems
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons dried thyme
- 6 garlic cloves
- 2 jalapeños – rough chop
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- 4 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1 (16-ounce) package dried navy beans
- 1 (26.46-ounce) container tomato puree
- 1 (12-ounce) bottle stout beer
- 4 cups chopped squash (about 2 medium)
- 1 (15-ounce) can RO*TEL Original Diced Tomatoes & Green Chiles
- sour cream (for serving)
- crushed tortilla chips (for serving)
- Combine 1 cup onion, 1 cup bell pepper, cilantro, thyme, garlic, and jalapeño in a food processor; process until almost smooth. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add mixture to pan; cook 8 minutes or until liquid nearly evaporates, stirring frequently. Add cumin and next 6 ingredients (through bay leaf); cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Transfer mixture to a 6-quart electric slow cooker. Stir in remaining 2 cups onion, 1 cup bell pepper, broth, tomato puree, and beer. Place crock insert in the refrigerator. In the morning add the beans, cover and cook on LOW 8-9 hours.
- Stir in remaining 1 cup bell pepper, squash, and RO*TEL tomatoes; cook on LOW 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf. Top chili with sour cream and crushed tortilla chips.
For “one-pot” simplicity, nothing beats slow cooking. But when it comes to bringing hot meals to parties and potlucks, spills can be a concern. With the travel-friendly Set & Forget® Slow Cookers, messes aren’t an issue.