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Vegetarian Chili with Popcorn Croutons

Vegetarian Chili with Popcorn Croutons

We know the raging debate among chili lovers – to add beans or not to add beans? And we’ve heard some very strong opinions on both sides. But, whichever position you take, there is no debate that beans should go into the veggie version. And no shade to the beefy one but our vegetarian chili with popcorn croutons will be universally loved.

A good chili is supposed to be hearty and zesty. And our recipe lives up that standard even without the beef. We combine onions, garlic, peppers, carrots and three kinds of beans – black, kidney and white cannellini – in a hearty tomato sauce. We add some veggie broth to thin it out but you can make it as thick or thin as you like. But the key to the amazing flavor of this dish is in the spices. We blend a good amount of chili powder, ground cumin, smoked paprika (one of our favorites) and dried oregano along with plenty of fresh parsley. Using cilantro might be more authentic but either one works and we don’t want to hear about it from any cilantro haters.

The chili powder adds a little kick but, for those folks who like their chili on fire, go ahead and add some cayenne pepper or a few dashes of crushed red pepper flakes.

Just before serving we top our chili with freshly shredded sharp cheddar cheese and maybe a squeeze of lime. A few avocado slices wouldn’t hurt here either. But our favorite part is the popcorn topping. Normally we’d serve some tortilla chips with chili because we always want a crunch but popcorn is definitely our favorite crunch.

Try setting up a chili station with a mild base but dishes of red pepper flakes for people to add their own extra heat. Include dishes with the popcorn, shredded cheese, lime and avocado so people can choose their own toppings. Or just make a big pot of this on the weekend and we guarantee that even the traditional chili lovers will enjoy it all week long.

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