Orange and Thyme Scented Chili

Joe's been called out of town for work for the second week in a row. Last week it was rather sudden, but this week I had advance notice, so I was able to plan my meals accordingly. Predictably, I reverted to my law school living-solo strategy of cooking a large pot of something for myself and then eating it for every meal until I can't stand it anymore. This is not a strategy to which I would ever subject another person, but I find that it works quite well for my lazy self.

So last night I made a big pot of this amazing orange and thyme scented vegetarian chili. I was a little worried it would be too sweet from the orange juice, but the flavor is totally subtle and it's not sweet at all. In fact, it's balanced really nicely by the spiciness of the chili powder. Overall it comes together beautifully, makes the kitchen smell incredible, and is one of those recipes that I just know I'll be making again.

It tastes better than it looks...

Orange and Thyme Scented Chili
Paraphrased from One Dish Vegetarian Meals
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red or green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 14-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • One 10- to 14-oz package of frozen veggie burgers or sausages, thawed and crumbled
  • 1 cup mild or medium salsa
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1/2 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed
Heat the olive oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and jalapeno (if using), cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, about 7-10 minutes or until softened. Stir in the chili powder, thyme, paprika, and brown sugar. Add the tomatoes, black beans, veggie burgers or sausages, and salsa. Cover and cook on low heat for 20 minutes. Add the orange zest, orange juice, and enough water to get it to approximately the consistency that you want. Cover again and cook for another 10 minutes, then serve.

Variations: You could try tempeh instead of the veggie burgers/sausages, or for all the carnivores out there, this would be equally delicious with ground turkey or ground beef substituted.