- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Holiday food has its place, but after all that intensity, it can be refreshing to settle back down into normal fare that is just plain good, solid and warming. Homemade chili, a straightforward workhorse, fits the bill.You simply cook some onions, garlic and peppers in olive oil with spices, then open cans of tomatoes and beans, add some good commercial stock (I use Imagine brand), and simmer everything together.Thirty minutes later, you will have some good chili, and if you let it cook even longer, it will be even better, as the flavors will meld more.Make a lot of this chili and refrigerate or freeze it in a tightly covered container. This chili only gets better with reheating!

Easy three-bean chili

Makes 6 servings (a generous cup per serving).

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 cups small diced onion

1 cup diced bell peppers (a mix of red, yellow and green is nice)

1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

2 tablespoons chili powder

1 tablespoon minced or crushed garlic

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

Pinch of cayenne pepper (a very scant 1/8 teaspoon)

28-ounce can crushed tomatoes packed in tomato puree

15-ounce can diced tomatoes

1 cup vegetable broth

15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

15-ounce can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

15-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place a large saucepan or soup pot over medium-high heat and wait 2 minutes. Add the oil and wait about 30 seconds, then add the onion, peppers and salt.

Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and both the onions and peppers are beginning to soften.

Add the chili powder, garlic, cumin, oregano, basil and cayenne; saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes and vegetable broth, and bring to a boil. Add the beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pot, and let the chili simmer gently for 20 minutes - or as long as 1 hour.)

Grind in some black pepper, and taste to adjust the salt. Serve hot.

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