Crock Pot Sweet Potato & Butternut Chili

Hello and happy belated Thanksgiving everyone! By now your tables have probably all been set, your turkeys carved, and your pies devoured. Family has come and gone, and hopefully you all had a stellar holiday filled with all the good stuff: good food, good wine, people you love, football, cozy sweaters, and so much gratitude.

If you are anything like us, you enjoyed the holiday dearly but are now settled back home, ready to clean it all up and get started decorating for the holiday season. We love celebrating and we love family so the holidays are always such a special time for us, but honestly, we seem to love the weekend after Thanksgiving almost as much as the actual festive day of amazing harvest foods and giving thanks.

We always keep our schedule sparse after Thanksgiving and spend our days tidying the house in preparation of all the decorating. We listen to holiday music, watch a birchwood fire blaze on the TV screen, hang lights and look up new ideas for easy affordable holiday decorations. As I wander around the house placing assorted Christmas knick knacks on tables, window sills and bookshelves, my Carrot puts a couple strings of lights outside on our front porch railings and another dozen or so strings of light inside the house. He frames all the windows and doors making our home look like a little sparkling fairyland of Christmas. It’s probably our most cozy weekend of the entire year and I just love it.

It is therefore very important that the food we eat this weekend is very simple, very nourishing and not too heavy. We’ve all spent the last few days overdoing it both in calories and in time spent in the kitchen so it’s time to re-calibrate, and for some reason or another, re-calibration to me feels like a giant vat of hearty vegetarian chili.

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This chili has been a CSA favorite since our very first year. It originally called for chorizo and delicata squash (which is still a lovely combo), but over time it evolved into using two of my favorite fall veggies (butternut squash and sweet potatoes) instead. You may be thinking that sweet potatoes taste nothing like chorizo and yes, you are right, but that is why the amounts of chili powder, cumin and cayenne are quite a bit higher than in your average chili recipe. They seemed to just keep increasing as I tested the new, improved totally vegetarian recipe. I love chili that really rocks your socks off with flavor and I realized pretty quickly that if I wasn’t going to use chorizo than I really needed to amp up the spices.

I also love this recipe for the obvious reason that it is made in a crock pot and comes together effortlessly while you’re ya know, hanging tons of Christmas lights in your house or going off to get your tree. Give this recipe a whirl and let me know what you think!

Much love and gratitude to you all,

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Takes 20 minutes (active time) + 4 hours (in slow cooker)
Serves 8-12

1/4 cup olive oil
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups diced red, orange or yellow pepper
4 cups water
6 cups diced tomatoes (from fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes or things you froze earlier in the year)
2 cups chopped sweet potatoes
4 cups chopped butternut squash
1 can (15-ounce) spicy chili beans
1 can (15-ounce) black beans, rinsed
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup chili powder
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
2 tablespoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
Pinch cinnamon

  1. Add olive oil to crock pot or slow cooker along with leek, garlic and peppers. Turn crock pot up to high and let cook on it’s own with the lid off for 10-15 minutes while you peel and dice your squash and sweet potatoes and get the rest of your ingredients assembled.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to the crock pot. It will be a tight fit even in a standard 8-quart crock pot. Place lid on crock pot and cook for at least four hours on high heat. If you are making it and leaving for the day, eight hours on low heat will work just as well.
  3. Enjoy with cheese, diced raw onion, Greek yogurt and a handful of chives. Store whatever remains in your fridge to eat throughout the weekend/week.

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