Very Veggie Chili

When the weather turns cold and damp, I turn to hearty soups and stews. This is one of my favorite meatless meals, good anytime of the year.

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrot
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
4 cloves garlic, grated on a rasp or minced
8 ounces mushrooms, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to personal preference)
1 6 oz can tomato paste
3 14 ounce cans vegetable broth
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils
1 15 ounce can chili beans (pinto beans in chili sauce)
1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 ounce can whole kernel corn, drained

1. In a large Dutch oven over medium high, heat the oil and add the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring frequently until the vegetables begin to brown a bit.
2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the peppers. Cook, stirring often, until the peppers begin to soften.
3. Add the garlic, mushrooms, and squash. Cook, stirring often just until the mushrooms begin to turn color.
4. Add all the dry seasonings, salt thru cayenne, stirring to coat, then push the veggies to the sides of the pot and add the tomato paste in the center.
5. Cook the tomato paste for a couple of minutes, then stir it into the veggies and add the broth and crushed tomatoes.
6. Raise the heat and bring everything to a boil, then stir in the lentils. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
7. Add the beans and corn and simmer another 20 minutes or more to heat the beans and blend all the flavors.
8. This chili is actually better the next day.

Servings: 12