Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Chili

In her post Chickpea Curry-Topped Sweet Potatoes earlier this week, Maggy wrote about her commitment to eating as unprocessed as she possibly could in October. I love Maggy’s enthusiasm for doing the right thing. She jumps in, starts living the life, and sharing the truth.

I’m different. Instead I listen to the facts and ponder  them for awhile. I think about all the people I develop recipes for–where they are and what they need. The fact is we all can’t go unprocessed cold turkey. It’s the reason I’ve cut back on meat consumption rather than become a full-time vegetarian. But thanks to Maggy and Sharon, I’m evolving. I’m not committed to an unprocessed diet at this point, but I’m aware.

Last weekend was Octoberfest in Bethlehem, and Maggy and Andy came out for all of the festivities. Along with brats and beer, there were temptations at every booth–funnel cakes, big buckets of fries. I knew Maggy needed to eat before we went. And because I wanted to support her unprocessed commitment, I planned fun meals that she–and we–could  all enjoy.

Among them was this Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Chili, a recipe that caught my eye in Vegetarian Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America. I adapted their recipe to my tastes and style,  and I love their brilliant use of coconut milk to add richness and body to this vegan chili.

The weekend was fun and part of it was because we ate lunches and dinners that tasted soulfully good, and when we got up from the table and headed out to Octoberfest, we felt good too!

Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Chili
Serves 6

2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 can (14.5 ounces) petite-diced tomatoes
2 generous cups bite-size diced butternut squash
2 cans (15 to 16 ounces each) kidney beans, drained
1 quart vegetable broth
1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallion, white and green part
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oil in a soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika, and thyme; sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomatoes; stew to reduce slightly, a couple of minutes longer. Add squash, kidney bean, broth, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until squash are tender and flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in scallions and cilantro; let stand to blend flavors, a few minutes longer. Serve, garnishing with extra scallions and cilantro.