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Meat Lover's Meatless Cookbook
by Kim O'Donnel

In the world of chili, ever notice how no one ever talks about chickpeas? It's too bad—and incomprehensible. These little balls of wonder deserve a shot at the next chili cook-off, y'all. Now about that turnip: Don't scoff. A slightly more bitter version of a potato, ye olde turnip is a refreshing change of pace that plays nicely with the melange of spices and cocoa. Should you remain unconvinced, by all means, go with the spud.
Kitchen Notes: Adjust the Chile pepper amounts as you see fit. Chili is a very personal creation, and you know your tolerance better than anyone else. This is killer served with a pot of pearl barley. Although preparing pearl barley is as simple as cooking a pot of rice, it does need a bit more time—about 45 minutes—so plan accordingly (in other words, get it on the stove before starting the chili).
Serves 6


    • 1 medium-size turnip, washed, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 1 medium-size onion, diced
    • 3 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices
    • 1 medium-size carrot, peeled and diced
    • 1 (2 x 1-inch) hunk fresh ginger, peeled & minced
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1/2 chile pepper of choice, seeded and minced
    • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
    • 1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
    • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 2 cups tomato puree
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 (15-oz) cans chickpeas, drained & rinsed thoroughly
    • 2 tablespoons tomato paste, dissolved in 2 tablespoons water (optional)


Prepare the turnip: Bring 4 cups of water to a boil over high heat. Add the chopped turnip and parboil for 5 minutes. The turnips will still be toothy, but are well on their way to tenderness. With a skimmer or sieve, transfer the turnips to a small bowl.

In a large saucepan or soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat, add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook until slightly softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the ginger, minced garlic, and chile pepper, stirring to mix in, about 2 minutes, then add the cocoa, spices, and salt. The mixture will seem a little pasty; that's okay.

Add the turnips; stir to coat with the spice mixture and aromatics, and let everything talk to one another. Pour in the tomato puree and water and bring to a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, over medium-low heat, 10 to 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and reduce a bit. Taste for salt, and add more if needed.

Stir in the chickpeas and cook as one big happy chili, until the chickpeas have arrived at your desired state of tenderness, 10 to 30 minutes. The wide time range is intentional, allowing for cook's choice. If you find that the chili needs thickening, add the optional tomato paste mixture at this time.

Will keep in an airtight container for at least 5 days.


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