Chili Chowder

ChiliChowder 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!

Zesty Potato-Corn Chowder

Fresh corn would have made this thick, chunky chowder even better but I was unable to find organic.  Corn is one of those items I always buy organic due to the possibility of GMO’s.  A very small portion of domestic sweet corn in the produce section is actually GMO, but since it’s not the law for it to be labeled (lame), it’s better to err on the side of caution.  Most of the GMO corn is used in processed foods (aka JUNK) and animal feed – just another reason to stay away from that crap and eat WHOLE plant foods!

Anyway, I digress.  This soup is delicious….and even better the next day.  For more intense and “zesty” flavor, add more cumin and chili powder, and use medium or hot green chiles – I used mild.  Jalapeños would be good here too, but as I’ve said before, I’m a spice wimp.  I used 2 teaspoons of chili powder and found it to be a bit too spicy, though the fam disagreed (told ya…wimp).  One of the two teaspoons was chipotle chili powder since I love that smoky flavor.  In one of the pictures below you will see something green in the chowder.  I stirred in some steamed kale and it was super yummy.

Update 9/26/13: I made this without the cashews (accidentally) and it was every bit as creamy and delicious.  So, I’ve changed the ingredient above to OPTIONAL.