Three-Bean Chili with Tons of Garnishes

It is a great relief to make the chili ahead of time since the garnishes can take some time to prepare. If you don’t have enough small bowls for the condiments, use hollowed-out orange halves, wine glasses, or any small container.

Feel free to throw in leftover turkey, chicken, beef, or ham.

Serves 6.

1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
2 Spanish onions, coarsely chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 bell peppers, any combination of colors, coarsely chopped
1 small eggplant, peeled, if desired, and cubed, or 3 zucchini, cubed
1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle chiles
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 to 2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 16-ounce can or 2 cups cooked white beans, drained and rinsed
1 16-ounce can or 2 cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
4 1-pound cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over for stones
2 20-ounce cans whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, including juice

1 large red onion, chopped
2 to 3 red tomatoes, diced
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt
½ cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
½ cup crumbled goat cheese
2 avocados, diced
2 limes, quartered

1. Place a large stockpot over medium heat and when it is hot, add the oil. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, eggplant or zucchini, oregano, chiles, red pepper flakes, and cook until the vegetables are golden, about 10 minutes.

2. Lower the heat to low, add the beans, lentils, and tomatoes, and cook partially covered, for 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

3. Transfer to a heated serving bowl and serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat gently.

4. Place the garnishes in small bowls and allow guests to embellish their chili as they please.

From The $50 Dinner Party: 26 Dinner Parties That Won’t Break Your Bank, Your Back, or Your Schedule (Simon & Schuster, 1998)