White Bean Chili with Butternut Squash

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One item I sorely miss from the U.S. while living in Italy is canned black beans.  I used to love throwing together a quick black bean soup or chili, making a huge pot to last a few days.  Since there are no canned black beans to be found in Bologna and I’m generally too disorganized to soak beans ahead of time, I’ve been experimenting recently with white bean chili.  My first attempt at making this white bean chili from Bon Appetit’s Food Lover’s cleanse was foiled by a pesky Italian root vegetable called radici amare.  I picked them up at my Italian vegetable stand thinking they were parsnips; they are NOT.  They are bitter, and ruin chili, and any other broth they come in contact with.  And so, tonight, I set out to redeem myself .  I combined the Bon Appetit recipe with this recipe from Etsy, and came up with the recipe below.  It came out pretty good, if I do say so myself.  I used cannellini and Spagna beans, but any beans will do.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 leeks, white and 1″ of pale-green part, diced
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large carrots, peeled, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 cup of butternut squash, cut into 1/4″ cubes
1–1 1/2 tablespoons ground ancho chiles
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1 15-oz. can cannellini beans, rinsed
1 15-oz. can Spagna beans, rinsed
1/2 cup canned corn
2 limes, cut into wedges
1 ripe avocado, peeled, chopped
Tortilla chips

Preparation

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add leeks, garlic, red pepper, and 2 Tbsp. water. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the butternut squash; stir to coat and cook for a few minutes.   Next add the carrots; stir to coat.  Cook, stirring often, until the carrots are just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes.   Add ground chiles, cumin, oregano, and 2 tsp. salt. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Fold in beans. Add diced tomatoes and about 5 cups water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer to allow flavors to meld, about 30 minutes.  At the 25 minute mark, stir in the corn and allow to cook for 5 more minutes. Season with salt, if needed.  Ladle the soup into bowls.  Top with avocado slices.  Serve with lime wedges and tortilla chips.

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