I love this time of year, when the weather is starting to cool off a bit (though it’s been hot here) and we start seeing winter squash and other great fall produce. We went to the farmer’s market yesterday and stopped at a farm stand hosted by a local dairy today. I got lots of great stuff to work with, including zucchini, bell peppers and acorn squash at a steal. This chili has many variations based on what I happen to have. It’s very forgiving and adaptable. This is NOT a substitute for carnivore chili. If you’re expecting that chili-in-a-can texture, flavor, or anything really resembling it you’ll not be getting it. This is more a celebration for vegetable lovers with a chili twist. It’s hearty, full of flavor and low in fat.
Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium until it shimmers. Add bell pepper, onion, zucchini, yellow squash and collard stems (you may omit the collards or use something else, such as carrots, whole collard greens, cauliflower or kale). Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies start to get tender.
Add 2 cans diced tomatoes without draining. If you have a small can of plain tomato sauce that’s a good addition too but not necessary. Add beans, chili powder, garlic, salt and pepper.
For the acorn squash, I cook mine by chopping them in half, removing the seeds then baking cut side down at 350 for around an hour until tender. Let them cool a while and the skin comes right off by hand leaving the soft cooked squash somewhat together. I drop it in a bowl and use a knife to slice through it a few times making about 1 inch chunks. I like about 2-3 cups worth. Add to the chili, stirring gently so that the chunks don’t completely dissolve.
Simmer the chili on low for 20 minutes to help bring the flavors together.
Attempt to let it cool enough not to singe off your tongue when you enjoy it. I like to serve it with a little avocado on top, sometimes some plain yogurt (which I use to replace sour cream) or a bit of cheese. Some fresh bread, biscuit or cornbread on the side and whatever fruit I have ripe.