Pumpkin chili (4-5 servings)

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If you live anywhere on the East Coast, you've probably had a touch of snow lately.  Here in Lancaster, we received a thoughtful 18 inches over the weekend with more falling as I type this.  Thanks, freaking groundhog.

Sunday was the Super Bowl, so I decided to continue my annual tradition of ignoring football and cooking instead.  I did make a super bowl of chili though!  (Nobody's ever made that joke before, right?)

*ahem*  Anyway, as I was sifting through some food blogs last weekend, I stumbled upon this chili recipe from AlwaysOrderDessert.com and was happy to discover I did have a solitary can of pumpkin hiding at the back of a cabinet.  I substituted and added quite a few ingredients and made the recipe vegetarian, so it's not really even that close to the original, but I wanted to give credit to the source for the clever pumpkin idea.  Here's what I ended up with:

You will need:

  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • Half a medium onion, peeled and diced
  • Half a medium bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp hot smoked Spanish paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vegetable bouillon cube (or 1 tsp paste concentrate)
  • 15-oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 15-oz cans beans, drained and rinsed (I used one kidney and one black)
  • 1 14-oz can pumpkin puree

Steps:

  1. Heat the oil in a stockpot over medium heat.  Add in the onion and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes.  Add in the garlic for the last minute or two.  (I found I had to add about 1/4 cup of water halfway through to keep the veggies from sticking to the bottom, but that's fine.)
  2. Next, sprinkle the spices on top of the veggies and stir for 30 seconds.  Pour in the water and add the bouillon, stirring to dissolve.
  3. Add in the tomatoes and beans and pumpkin puree, stirring to incorporate.  Cover and let come to a boil.  Then, lower the heat to a simmer and let it bubble for 15 minutes with the lid askew.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Ladle into bowls and serve.

I think I might be developing an addiction-like relationship with hot smoked Spanish paprika.  I don't usually make things too spicy, and this was among the spiciest dishes I've ever made.  (It's still wimpy compared to other people's tastes, I'm sure.)  My lips got all tingly as I was eating, yet I couldn't stop!  That paprika adds such a fascinating depth to everything I use it in.  Definitely get yourself some if you haven't tried it!

I loved the texture the pumpkin created.  And no, the chili doesn't taste overtly of pumpkin; it just lends a simple "vegetabley" taste to the base and makes the chili a pretty color.  (Of course, it adds nutrition, too!)  This was very, very hearty, and I had trouble getting through the whole bowl I served myself!  Bryan loved it too.  He topped his with cheddar cheese, but I just used sour cream to cut back on the heat a bit.  If you don't use either of these toppings, it's vegan!

If you have peppers and onions in the freezer, you might not even need to buy any ingredients to make this!  It's easy, too.  Why not treat yourself to a spicy new spin on chili during a snowy week?