Clean-out-the-fridge Veggie-Tofu Chili

photo 1With our India trip only five days away, we’re right in the final preparations of laundry, packing, finishing up projects at work, and all those pre-trip details that you have on a list for weeks (or in our case, months) but when it gets down to it, you really do in the last few days. One of the challenging things about any trip for someone as frugal as I am is making sure I don’t buy any perishable groceries that we can’t use before we leave.

Hence, the “clean-out-the-fridge” meal.

And although we try to eat healthy all the time, before a trip are especially conscious about making sure we are getting plenty of veggies, water, sleep, etc. so that we are as prepared for travel as possible.

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I make chili quite often in fall and winter, usually with ground turkey, but occasionally all-veg. However, the one I made last night came out particularly tasty. This was my first time adding tofu, so I’m not sure if that’s what did it, or if it was the combo of vegetables, or the particular spices, but whatever it was I wanted to record it so I can do it again. We both had second helpings of this one!

You could easily leave the tofu out, but it totally takes on the flavor of the chili, and adds some great protein, so I’d encourage you to try it. My selection of veggies was strictly determined by what I had in my fridge (hence the half-onion, leftover carrot, and slightly sad mushrooms), but this combo turned out to be wonderful. The long green peppers I get from an Asian market near my house and were what I happened to have on hand, but you could easily substitute 1 large green bell pepper, or a couple of cubanelle or poblanos. This made about 4-6 servings, depending how hungry you are!

Clean-out-the-fridge Veggie-Tofu Chili

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  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/2 (or a little more) of a large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, chopped
  • 4 long green hot peppers, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • about a dozen mushrooms, stems removed & quartered
  • 1 T ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • one 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • one 15 oz can kidney or small red beans, rinsed and drained
  • about 8 oz firm tofu, pressed to remove excess liquid and then crumbled
  • large can or box (26-28 oz) of crushed tomatoes (I like Pomi in the box)

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In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat until quite hot; add the onions and carrots and cook for 3-4 minutes until just starting to soften. Add the peppers, garlic and mushrooms and cook together for another 2-3 minutes; add the spices and stir well to mix everything together. Cook another few minutes until the spices are very fragrant.

Add the beans and crumbled tofu to the pot, and then the tomatoes; stir to combine everything well. At this point add a couple of good pinches of salt, and a few turns of cracked black pepper. Bring it up to a boil, then cover and turn the heat down so it stays at a low simmer. Cook for 20-30 minutes, or longer if you like very soft vegetables.

Serve with your favorite chili toppings – we like scallions and cheddar – and warm tortilla chips on the side.

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