This delicious, hardy dish has flavors similar to chili, with the texture and consistency of a thick chowder. I love it! Top with avocado and/or Sour Un-Cream.
I have made this using both canned black beans and beans I made from scratch with the pressure cooker. As is usually the case, I preferred the version with the homemade beans. If you have a pressure cooker, it’s SO easy. Soak 1 pound of dried black beans overnight or 6 hours (some say soaking isn’t necessary but I always do). Rinse and place in your pressure cooker and add just enough water to cover the top of the beans – the water should be just touching the beans. Add 4 cloves crushed garlic, a few bay leaves and 2 tsp cumin seeds. Cook at high pressure 14 minutes, and let the pressure come down naturally. Beans are done! Makes about 5 cups of black beans. Remove the bay leaves, stir and add the whole batch to the rest of the Chili Chowder ingredients.
I order my dried beans online from Rancho Gordo, a farm in Northern California. They are heirloom beans, which are open-pollinated seeds that can be planted and you’ll get the exact same bean. They tend to have a lower yield and can be much more difficult to grow but the pay off is in the unique flavors and textures that you don’t find with bland commodity beans. They are always fresh too, which is great. You never know how old the beans at the grocery store are, and old beans can take forever to cook. I highly recommend Rancho Gordo beans. It’s fun to experiment with all the different varieties they offer. Now get cooking!
Imagine being vegan and weighing nearly 500 lbs. Seems impossible doesn’t it? Most people associate vegan with healthy. For many that is the case, but the opposite is also true. Potato chips? Vegan. French fries? Vegan. Soda? Vegan. Vegetable oils? Vegan. See where I’m going with this? Vegan (the absence of animal foods) is only healthy when the diet is comprised of whole, low-fat, plant foods. Vegan junk food is how you get sick and in Del’s case, to 475 pounds! This is the meaning of the title of Del’s new cookbook, Better Than Vegan. Being vegan isn’t enough if you want to achieve optimal health and weight…you must be Better Than Vegan! Del has managed to drop nearly all of his extra weight but doing just that!
Del’s recipes are easy to follow and execute, and of course they’re delicious! To give you an idea of how tasty and easy his recipes are, I made the Smokey Black Bean Bisque (recipe below) and it was phenomenal! Truly. I’m not generally a non-chunky soup fan but the flavor of this soup was fantastic, and even though it’s not chunky, its still nice and thick. Del instructs you to toast and grind the cumin seeds and I’m sure this really contributed to the rich flavor – so don’t skimp and use bottled, ground cumin if you can help it. He also calls for fresh oregano which I didn’t have and couldn’t find at the store, so I used dried. If you do that remember to cut the amount in half. So, instead of 2 tsp fresh, you would use 1 tsp dry. I soaked and cooked my own black beans ahead of time, but canned would be fine – just remember to rinse them. I did not garnish with cilantro because I despise it and think it tastes like perfume. Bleh! For leftovers the next night I roasted delicata squash, filled it with wild rice and kale, and topped it with the bisque – YUM!
Chef Del’s Smokey Black Bean Bisque from “Better Than Vegan”
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Contest Question: How many vegan or vegetarian cookbooks do you own?