I’m not waiting for the Super Bowl to make this chili. I’m planning to make it for dinner this week. Chocolate in chili? Sound absurd? Not at all. It gives the chili a nice depth that vegetarian chili can sometimes lack. I’ve never used semi-sweet chocolate pieces, opting instead for cocoa. If you prefer using cocoa, you can always just add a little extra oil.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite cookbooks, Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates. My first vegetarian cookbook was Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, and I’ve bought several other Moosewood cookbooks since then. I highly recommend any of them. I like that they’re a bit chatty about the recipes. I also like that this particular cookbook arranges things by event. So, if you need a recipe for a birthday breakfast in bed, you can flip to that section and have a whole menu laid out for you.

Anyway, enough about the cookbook and on to the recipe.

Black Bean and Chocolate Chili

2 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 c. chopped onions
4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
1 small fresh chile, minced
1 T. ground cumin
2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
pinch of ground cloves (I’m leaving those out, not being a huge clove fan)
1 t. ground coriander
1/2 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. salt (I’ll probably use more like 1 t.)
1 1/2 c. chopped bell peppers
3 c. cooked or canned black beans (2- 14.5 oz. cans, rinsed and drained)
2 c. undrained crushed canned tomatoes (one 14.5 oz. can)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. soy sauce
1 1/2 oz semi-sweet chocolate, broken into small pieces (or you could use about a 1/4 c. chocolate chips)
chopped scallions

In a saucepan, warm the oil on medium heat. Add the onions ad garlic and saute until the onions become translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the celery and chile, cover, and cook for about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat and stir in the spices and bell peppers. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until the bell peppers begin to soften. Stir occasionally to keep the spices from burning. If needed, add a little juice from the canned tomatoes.

Add the black beans, tomatoes, lemon juice and soy sauce. Bring the chili to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the chocolate. When it is melted, adjust the salt, black pepper and lemon juice to taste.

Garnish with chopped scallions.