Chili is not a very Peruvian thing. In fact, when I was a kid, my mom used to make chili at home very often, and when I took it in my lunchbox to school my friends were always fascinated by this delicious and “exotic” dish. I was familiarized with it and really loved it, but the only place where I ate it was at home, as it wasn’t served in any restaurants, or made in any of my friend’s homes.
Of course, things have changed in the past couple of decades, and with the arrival of big Tex Mex food chains, the internet, and globalization, chili is not that strange anymore.
But our friend Manuel Villacorta, author of Eating Free and Peruvian Power Foods, has taken this tasty soup one step closer to Peru, by using a couple of our beloved superfoods to make a new version of it. Quinoa and pichuberries are his two healthy additions to this recipe, which are also the perfect substitution for meat, turning this entree vegetarian. I always used to make it with vegetarian minced meat, or simply with beans and veggies, but I think quinoa is going to be an important part of my chili-making in the future.
In the US, gooseberries are usually confused with pichuberries. If you can’t find the latter, you can replace them with the former, but try hard to find the real Peruvian power fruit, as it has added health properties and a much sweeter taste that will enhance the flavor of this soup.
Now go warm up with a steaming bowl of this vegetarian chili!
- ½ cup quinoa
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 1 jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 cup dices carrots
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 zucchini, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 cups pichuberries, halved
- 1 (15 oz) can black beans with liquid
- 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans with liquid
- 1 (15 oz) can canary or pinto beans with liquid
- 1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a saucepan over medium heat bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add quinoa and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook covered until all the water is absorbed (15-20 minutes). Set aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.Add the onion and cook until soft (about 5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Add jalapeno, carrot, celery, bell pepper, zucchini, and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften (about 10 minutes).
- Stir in pichuberries and cook for another 3-5 minutes, until they start releasing some of their juices.
- Add cooked quinoa, beans along with their juices, tomatoes with juice, cumin, chili powder, oregano, paprika, salt, and pepper. Stir well.
- Cover the pan and let the chili simmer over low heat for 25-30 minutes or until fragrant.
- Serve warm, with any of the following optional toppings: chopped scallions, avocado slices, sour cream or plain Greek yogurt, shredded cabbage or lettuce, tortilla strips, lime wedges, chopped pichuberries.