You are in the woods. You’ve been hiking and playing and meditating all day. You’ve communed with trees, watched birds, seen a deer, and placed your hands on Mama Earth, feeling into your own heart through her touch.
You’re tired and inspired and the air is getting a bit cooler. Summer in the mountains feels refreshing, and the beauty of the plant world fills your cup. Your friends, your beloved, and/or your kids are getting hungry.
And you have dinner all figured out.
This Chili soup is a great one for taking with you on a camping trip.
I usually prepare it a couple of days before we get on the road. I freeze it in 1 gallon freezer ziploc bags. (Unfortunately I haven’t found an environmentally friendly solution yet, but I make sure to bring those bags back with us, wash, and reuse them). We bring the soup with us frozen in the cooler. On the day you plan to eat it, if it’s still frozen, pull it out of the cooler in the morning to let it thaw (if it’s not frozen, keep it in the cooler until you’re ready to heat it up). Make sure no animals can get into it. Sometimes it’s best to let it thaw in the car.
This soup is fabulous at home too, when the air gets cooler in Autumn, while those Summer vegetables are still available. It’s a gorgeous offering for a Fall Equinox gathering. And a surprising first or second course to serve at a Rosh Hashanah meal, when you need a good vegan option.
When you make soup, it’s nice to make a big pot. You can always freeze some of it. This recipe feeds 8-10 people.
6 fresh shallots + the greens (or replace with 6 leeks, or with 1-2 large onion)
1 large onion
Garlic head (or less if you’re not a garlic head)
1 cup olive oil (I actually added more)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp paprika
1 cup black beans
1 cup pinto beans
1 cup kidney beans
1 cup white northern beans
6 celery sticks + leaves if they’re pretty
4-5 zucchini and or yellow summer squash (I like mixing for color and flavor diversity
5 peppers bell or mixture of different kinds (that’s the way I like it) with different colors
3 Serrano or jalapeño peppers (optional)
10-15 tomatoes (depending on size) – I like to use heirloom because they have so much liquid in them, it creates a super yummy broth.
1-2 tbsp maple syrup
4-5 Bay Leaves
1-2 bunch of cilantro
Soak the beans for 6-12 hours. Strain and rinse (I like to rinse three times). Place in a large pot with lots of water, bring to a boil, and then simmer.
In the meantime, chop all your veggies. It’s up to you how big or small you like your chunks of vegetables to be. I do recommend mincing the garlic and the hot peppers.
- Some people like to chop all the veggies first. Personally, I chop as I go because it saves me time. I start with the onions/shallots/leeks and garlic, start cooking them, and then chop in the order of which I add each item into the pot.
Place the shallots, onion, leeks, and garlic in a large pot with the olive oil, and cook on medium heat, stirring regularly, until golden.
Add cumin and paprika and stir.
Add carrots and stir. Let it cook for a couple of minutes.
Add celery and give it a few stirs for another minute.
Add all your peppers (including the hot ones if you choose to spice up your life). Stir and let it cook together for another couple of minutes. The aroma at this point is lovely.
Now add the zucchini and summer squash, and again, stir and cook for a few minutes.
You are tomato ready!! Add those chopped beauties in, stir, and enjoy the scent in your kitchen. Add the maple syrup and stir it in. Let the tomatoes cook with all the veggies in the pot for 10+ minutes, allowing them to liquify and boil.
This is the moment when it all comes together! Excited? Take the beans off the stove and strain them. Once strained, add the beans into the pot and stir them in.
The tomatoes have given a great base for the broth, along with the oil, onions, garlic, and all the veggies you’ve mixed in. All you need to do is add water. Cover up all the ingredients with water, and then some. This soup wants to be thick and hearty, so don’t add too much water.
Add black pepper if you didn’t include hot pepper in your chili. Or if you want it to be even spicier.
Put a whole parsnip in. It adds so much flavor. Take it out when the chili is ready.
Add bay leaves in and pull them out if you can find them when it’s ready.
Bring to a boil and then simmer for a couple of hours, stirring every once in a while.
Add salt about an hour in. You want the beans to soften quite a bit before adding salt. I use pink Himalayan salt.
When the chili is ready, right before you turn off the stove, add chopped cilantro and mix it in.
Optional: When you serve it, you can pour it over a bed of raw or sauteed kale. Personally, I always need some greens.
- If you’re taking this chili on a camping trip, you can rinse and chop the kale ahead of time at home, and bring it in your cooler. When you heat up the soup you can add the kale right at the beginning. It’ll cook real nicely with everything. Do stir regularly to avoid burning the bottom of the pot. It sucks to clean it up! Especially while camping.
Optional: Add avocado cubes to each individual bowl. Oh my goodness! This takes this whole chili experience to the next level.
More options: You can eat this chili as is, or over rice, or dip some organic tortilla chips in it (that’s our favorite!). Or if you’re camping, you can pour it over potatoes you cook in the fire.
Feel free to play around with this recipe. It’s not set in stone. Modify and personalize and have some fun with it! Make it your own.
Comment below and let me know how yours comes out (and also where you took your chili camping). I really want to hear from you!
Hope you love it as much as my family and I do.