Hearty Winter White Bean Chili
This comforting white bean chili is light in calories and big in flavor! Rich in cauliflower and immune-boosting mushrooms, this hearty recipe gets its warmth from the delicate spice blend, Ras el Hanout!
I knew I was in the mood for chili when the temperature in Boulder dropped to a high of 6 degrees (the lowest it has been for December in years). When chili comes to mind, most of us probably think of tomato-based versions with black and red kidney beans. These are also delicious, but I wanted to make a lighter and warming white chili this time. What better way to warm up a white bean chili than with Ras el Hanout!
Wait, what is Ras el Hanout?
Ras el Hanout is a beautiful North African spice blend of sweet and savory spices, like nutmeg, cloves, pepper, and paprika. Since it is not a common seasoning to have in the kitchen, you can easily make your own blend with spices and herbs you most likely already own. Check out this recipe from Food.com and more information about the blend in one of my favorites, The Kitchn blog and feel free to play around with these spices based on your taste preference.
This chili packs in so much flavor from this blend, that you will not miss the salt! I usually add a small pinch of sea salt to my soups because I am cooking with low sodium broth. For this recipe, I used regular vegetable broth and did not add salt. If you are trying to watch your sodium intake, I highly recommend a low sodium broth and adding more garlic in place of table salt.
What makes this white bean chili so healthy?
Most chilis we see in restaurants (or even tailgate parties) are saturated with excess shredded cheese and grease from ground meat sitting on top. Cheese is still an optional topping here, but in moderation of course! Who doesn’t love cheese? The broken pieces of cauliflower and mushrooms will lend a similar taste to ground meat. If you prefer meat, aim for lean meats such as ground chicken or turkey (still just as good). The fiber and protein-rich white beans will also keep you satisfied for hours. For some great tips on a healthy chili swap check out Eating Well’s article here.
Besides being healthy, this chili is also extremely easy to make! The majority of the cooking simply consists of simmering these delicious spices and flavors. Prior to simmering, the vegetables and proteins are sauteed with the spices for up to a minute. This brings out its aromatic components. The soft texture in this recipe is created by a handheld immersion blender. If you don’t own one of these amazing gadgets, feel free to use a masher or place in a blender in small batches.
As the holidays are nearing their end, now is the best time to aim for some lighter, yet flavorful foods. Eating MORE of the right foods than focusing on eating LESS overall should be a habit all year round. With only 20% of resolutions actually succeeding, those crash diets are not going to last. Be good to yourself and don’t deny the foods you enjoy. As we have all heard, everything in moderation is key, right?
Whether your resolutions consist of trying yoga, eating less meat, or being more organized, I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium Cauliflower, cored and chopped
- 1 mild chili pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 8oz white mushrooms, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons Ras el Hanout spice blend*
- 2 15oz cans white beans (pinto, Northern White, chickpea)
- 4 cups of vegetable broth (or chicken broth if preferred)
- 1-2 scallions chopped, optional
- Shredded cheese of your choice for topping, optional
- Heat olive oil on medium high heat in a non-stick pan or skillet. Cook the onions until slightly softened, about 3-5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cauliflower, mushrooms, and chili pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes or until cauliflower is softened.
- Add the spice blend and cook for 30 seconds to a minute until fragrant.
- Pour in the beans and vegetable broth and let simmer for 15-20 minutes or until all the vegetables are soft.
- Once the chili is cooked through, use an immersion blender to puree some of the cauliflower. If an immersion blender is not available, feel free to use a masher or transfer portions of the chili in a blender to give it the thickened consistency of a ground meat chili.
Ras el Hanout is a blend of spices as mentioned previously in the post. Please adjust with the spices of your liking. These spices include: nutmeg, paprika, turmeric, cinnamon, cardamom, cumin, and clove. If cheese is not part of your diet and you would love to have that cheesy taste, try topping it with nutritional yeast (good source of B12 for a bonus).