Warming up with a bowl of chili

The chili was served on a bed of basmati rice and topped with sharp cheddar shavings. Mashed avocado and sour cream were served as condiments.

It’s that time of year again! Fall isn’t just leaves changing color, the weather being cooler and days getting shorter. It’s also time to revisit hearty comfort food. The following dish makes no exception to the rule.

I was recently craving some spicy chili. For a couple of years, I’ve been following my friend Émilie’s vegetarian recipe. This time around, I’ve also browsed around online and stumbled upon Jamie Oliver’s take on chili con carne. I ended up combining elements of both recipes and tried putting my own twist on things.

Caution! Spicy! Habanero peppers.

Disclaimer: all quantities are approximate. My batch of chili yielded about 4 1-litre containers.


  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 roasted garlic head
  • Carrots (2 to 4)
  • Celery stalks (2-3)
  • 1 leek or 2 or 3 small leeks
  • Bell peppers  (1 or 2)
  •  2 or 3 hot peppers (I used 3 habanero chillies)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 can of mixed beans
  • 10 large size tomatoes
  • 2 pounds of stewing beef cut in small cubes
  • Fresh coriander (I didn’t have any, I used dried)
  • 2 table spoons of balsamic vinegar
  • Basmati rice
  • Avocados
  • Sour cream


  • Wrap up the garlic bulb in aluminum foil and place in the oven at 350 degrees F. Leave in oven for about an hour.
  • Prepare the tomatoes by blanching them and chopping them.
  • Chop finely the carrots, celery and onions.
  • Chop up the bell peppers.
  • Brown the small stewing beef cubes.
  • In a large pot (or 2 depending on the size of your pots, I always underestimate the volume of food I prepare… Oops), add some olive oil, mix in the chopped vegetables and add the cumin, cinnamon and some salt and pepper. Stir around until softened for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the drained mixed beans and red kidney beans and small cubes of stewing beef.
  • Slice the hot peppers in half and remove the seeds, then place them in the pot. I used 3 habanero peppers for my entire batch.
  • Mix in the chopped tomatoes.
  • Bring to a boil and then lower heat and let simmer for about 3 hours while stirring from time to time.

 Serving your chili

This chili serves well on a bed of rice and topped with some sharp cheddar shavings. To tone down the heat of this dish, I served the chili with sides of mashed avocado and some sour cream.

Some final thoughts 

After over 3 hours of simmering, the chili is ready!

I ended up combining elements of both my friend’s and Jamie Oliver’s recipes; using my friend’s quantities for tomatoes and vegetables while following Jamie Oliver’s suggestions for seasoning. The final product made for a tasty and comforting, albeit spicy dish.

I’d usually use ground beef for the dish, but wanted to try small cubes of stewing beef. After simmering for a couple of hours, the beef was obviously quite tender and the texture blended quite well with the rest of the chili.

While the chili was simmering, I noticed that it wasn’t thickening as much as I wanted it. I added a jar of puréed tomatoes and chopped up two additional bell peppers. This quickly helped improve the texture of the chili.

I’m a fan of spicy dishes, this dish clearly satisfied the craving. I will admit that it may have been a little too spicy for everyone’s liking. The Habanero chillies probably have a lot to do with it; considering that they are between 100, 000 and 350,000 Scoville heat units while jalapeno or chipotle peppers are between 3, 500 and 8, 000.  The sour cream and mashed avocado were good addition to the dish to balance thing out.

Glad that we’ll now have some comforting chili readily waiting in the freezer for those crisp autumn or winter days.

What are your comfort food favorites?


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