Makes 5 to 6 hearty bowls
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
3 cups cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch cubes)
Fine sea salt
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
1 Tb chili powder
1 1/2 to 3 tsp adobo sauce, from a can of chipotle peppers in adobo*
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 bay leaf
2 cans (15 oz each) black beans, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked black beans
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, with their liquid
2 cups vegetable broth
Crispy Tortilla Strips
1 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
3 corn tortillas, cut into 2-inch-long, 1/4-inch-wide strips
Fine sea salt
1 large or 2 small avocados, diced
Handful of chopped fresh cilantro
*Ingredient Note: If you can’t find chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (check the international/Hispanic aisle of your grocery store), replace them with an equal amount of smoked paprika.
In a Dutch oven or soup pot, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, bell peppers, butternut squash, and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes,
Reduce the heat to medium-low and add the garlic, chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp adobo sauce, the cumin, and cinnamon. Cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the bay leaf, black beans, tomatoes, and broth. Stir to combine, then increase the heat to medium-high and bring the mixture to a simmer.
Cover and cook, reducing the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer and stirring occasionally, for about 1 hour. You’ll know your chili is done when the butternut squash is nice and tender and the liquid has reduced somewhat. Remove the bay leaf and discard it.
For a thicker chili, mash the chili with a potato masher until you reach a more hearty consistency. (Alternatively, transfer 2 cups of the chili to a blender, blend until smooth-beware hot steam escaping from the lid-and stir it back into the pot.) Add salt to taste. If your chili isn’t spicy enough, add more adobo sauce (I usually add another 1 1/2 teaspoons, but I like spicy chili).
To make the tortilla strips: Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is shimmering, toss in the tortilla strips, sprinkle them with salt, and stir. Cook until the strips are crispy and turning golden, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes. Cover a plate with a piece of paper towel and place it near the stove. Once the strips are done, scoot them onto the covered plate to drain and cool.
Ladle the chili into bowls (this chili is very hearty, so I usually aim for about 1 1/2 cups of chili per bowl), then top with crispy tortilla strips, plenty of diced avocado, and a small sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
CHANGE IT UP
If you’re in a hurry, buy pre-cut cubed butternut squash, and instead of making your own tortilla strips, just use a handful of crumbled tortilla chips.