Our first winter of the season has arrived! As a fan of the flakey white stuff, I was very excited to wake up to big fat flakes falling from the sky. The snow outlines all of the subtle structures of tree branches, a fire is in the stove, the winter garden is starting to show off its unique beauty and it is a perfect time for a big bowl of chili.
Chili is one of those soups that seem to have as many recipes as it has chefs. Beans, meat, spicy, mild, topped with crackers, cheese or creamy – these choices are just a small list of the choices that can be made with chili recipes. Each hand that makes the chili makes it a little differently. It’s a lot of fun to try these different recipes, enjoying many variations on a culinary tune.
With thousands of variations all falling under the name of chili, individuality added by each hand preparing that shared pot of soup adds distinctive flavors belonging just to them. There is not a right or wrong, just different, and yet all falling under this one category. Many ingredients are mixed together in a composition that creates a final flavor. There are many styles and tastes, but they are all chili. I love not being stuck in a box.
My absolute favorite recipe (though I do have some close seconds) is the chili my parents make. My mom starts it and my dad flavors it as it cooks. There is always a discussion over the level of spiciness and if it will be too hot to share. And it always turns out perfectly.
This is their recipe and it makes a canner full. Plenty to eat, share and freeze the leftovers for enjoyment on another snow day.
- 6 lbs. ground beef\
- 46 oz. can tomato juice
- 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2 cans of 28 oz. diced tomatoes and green chilies mild
- 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in a puree
- 28 oz. tap water
- 2 cans of 30 oz. can of chili beans
- ½ qt. size bags of bell peppers (I used frozen bell peppers from the garden this summer), diced
- 4-5 large onions, dice
- Chili powder and salt
While the meet is browning, dice the peppers and onions. Add the other canned and fresh ingredients to the canner. Stir the tomato juice, diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, chili beans, water, bell peppers and onions together.
After the meat has finished browning, drain it and add it to the tomato mixture. Start heating the soup on low.
Stir regularly to keep the chili from sticking. For this large size pot, add ½ cup of chili powder and start with several shakes of the salt shaker. Once the chili has cooked a while, add another ½ cup of chili powder and stir. Let the chili cook. Add chili powder and salt to taste.
Chili is best when it has time to cook and really let all of the flavors work together. This is a great make the day ahead soup.