Sometimes, a nice meatless option is a great alternative, especially when you want something a bit lighter. This vegetarian chili, although it has no meat, is still a classic with tons of flavor. Plus, the addition of a homemade chili powder really brings all the spicy flavors that chili deserves!
3-4jalapenos, minced (with or without seeds for heat)
prepared chili powder (above)
prepared beans (above)
For the beans
Look over the beans to ensure there are no stones or bad-looking contaminants. Rinse the beans and place them in a kettle with the water and salt. Bring to a boil, cover and set aside to let soak for one hour. While the beans are soaking, prepare the chili powder.
For the homemade chili powder
Preheat oven to 425°F. Using hands, open peppers, clean out seeds, and remove stems. Place dried peppers on the baking sheet and into the hot oven. Let toast 4-6 minutes until slightly puffed and crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Break into smaller pieces and place them into a food processor or spice grinder. Add oregano and grind to a fine powder.
For the chili
Heat oil in a large Dutch oven. Add onion when the oil begins to shimmer. Let onion sauté and turn translucent. Then add tomato paste and stir to cook out the raw flavor, 30 seconds to one minute. Add the tomato juice, red pepper, jalapeños, and prepared chili powder. Stir in rice and brown sugar. The rice helps to slightly thicken the soup and the sugar balances the acidity of the tomatoes. Bring the chili to a simmer. Then drain the beans and add them to the Dutch oven along with the bay leaves.
Place on lid and let simmer until beans are cooked through, about 1 to 1 ½ hours. Stir every so often to ensure nothing is burning or sticking to the bottom. This shouldn't be a problem if using a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven.
To finish the chili, add vinegar. This helps brighten or "wake up" the flavors after a long simmer. If the chili is too thick for personal preference, thin it down with a little more tomato juice.