Case in point: I’ve made chorizo chili before, but never with sweet potatoes. I rather enjoy playing around with chili recipes in general, since it is so versatile, and this one stands out to me as one of the more uniquely flavored concoctions that has developed from my playing around with whatever was available in the fridge.
You can’t really tell that those are sweet potatoes in the pot unless you’re familiar with the white flesh kind, which I wasn’t until recently. I’ve gotten into the habit of picking up random food to try while I’m on my shift in the produce department at the local co-op, and white sweet potatoes were a new creature that I crossed paths with a couple of months ago. Apparently the particular variety I picked up is known as a Japanese sweet potato, and despite the fact that the flesh is a creamy off-white color, they taste pretty much like the orange variety, if not a tad sweeter.
When searching for information on how the Japanese variety differs from the more familiar types of sweet potato, I stumbled across a post on a Paleo website that had the most detail of anything else I could find. Aside from the obvious lack of beta-carotene, Japanese sweet potatoes seem to be fairly high in minerals and B vitamins, which is nothing to sneeze at given the high turnover rate of water-soluble nutrients and the general lack of healthy levels of trace minerals in standard diets.
Putting sweet potatoes in chili provides a nice contrast to the spiciness of the rest of the dish, enhanced in this case by my favorite vegan chorizo from Upton’s Naturals. I’m fond of its flavor combination of guajillo chili and cumin, the chewy texture, its oil-free recipe and the fact that I can pronounce and recognize every single ingredient. (And that none of those ingredients are “hydrolyzed” or “autolyzed” or “extract”s of anything!) It adds a “meaty” texture to chili that rounds it out when you want something more than just beans.
This chili starts with all the basics like onions and peppers with some diced tomatoes to form the sauce. Then come the sweet potatoes, chorizo and yes, kidney beans. Not only is it a healthy combination, it also tastes pretty darn amazing, if I do say so myself.
But half the enjoyment of chili is what you can dump on it or dip in it, right? There’s a lot of “wiggle room” here for garnishing with just about anything that goes well with the hot/sweet combination. Some ideas:
- Sliced scallions
- Nutritional yeast
- Vegan sour cream
- Fresh cilantro leaves
If you’re more of the dipping type, some organic corn tortillas or a nice whole grain bread wouldn’t go amiss here. Or even something like Mary’s Gone Crackers. This is a pretty versatile chili despite–or perhaps because of–its interesting flavor, so feel free to experiment. And tell me all about it when you do! I’m always ready to make a brand-new chili from whatever ideas come my way.
- 1 cup onion, diced
- 1 cup green pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 large sweet potato (about ¾lb.), diced
- 3 cups no-salt-added diced tomatoes with their juices
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp. chili powder
- 2 tsp cumin
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 cups cooked kidney beans or 2 15.5-oz cans (drained and rinsed if canned)
- 1 package Upton's Naturals chorizo style seitan
- sliced scallions
- nutritional yeast
- vegan sour cream
- chopped fresh cilantro
- Place the onions and peppers in a large saucepan over medium heat. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add a little water to the pan if necessary to prevent sticking.
- Add the garlic and cook, covered, for 2 minutes more, until fragrant.
- Add the sweet potatoes and spices and stir to coat. Stir in the tomatoes and their juices along with the water. Cover and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the sweet potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add the beans and chorizo and continue to simmer, uncovered, until the chili thickens and all the vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes more.
- Serve topped with your choice of tasty vegan garnishes!