Vegetarian Chili with Winter Squash and Wild Mushrooms

Makes 12 Servings


  • 3/4 ounce (approximately 5 to 6) dried porcini or shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (approximately 1 medium) diced white onion
  • 3/4 cup (approximately 1) diced green pepper
  • 3/4 cup (approximately 1) diced red pepper
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 5 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 pounds (approximately 1 medium-sized) butternut squash, peeled and diced 3/4-inch
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes, drained and rinsed
  • 1 each 15-ounce can black beans, pinto beans, and garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • Salt, as needed
  • Sugar, as needed



  • 1 cup shredded Jack cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro


  1. Soak the mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes. Once softened, remove from the water and dice finely, keeping both the mushrooms and the soaking liquid.
  2. Heat half of the olive oil in a 6-quart sauce pot over medium heat. Add the onion and peppers, and sauté until onions are translucent and just beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook over moderate heat until garlic is aromatic, about 6 minutes more. Remove from pan and hold on the side.
  3. Add the remaining olive oil to the pan and heat. Add the chopped mushrooms and sauté on high heat until they begin to brown slightly, about 5 minutes. Make a well in the center of the pan, add the chili powder and cumin, and sauté briefly until aromatic and the spices mix with the oils in the pan—do not allow to blacken or burn! Add the tomato paste and cook over moderate heat until it caramelizes slightly, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add the squash and cook for 5 minutes. Add reserved mushroom liquid and additional water if needed. Bring to a simmer, and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped tomatoes, assorted beans, and the reserved onion, garlic, and pepper mixture. Simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until squash is tender, occasionally skimming and discarding any foam that rises to the surface. Watch the consistency of the chili, and if it gets dry and threatens to scorch, you can add extra water by the 1/4 cup. If, on the other hand, the chili is too liquid, cooking over a higher heat briefly will reduce some of the excess liquid.
  6. Season the chili to taste with salt. If the flavor is at all bitter, adjust with a pinch of sugar.
  7. Garnish with shredded Jack cheese, sour cream, sliced scallions, and chopped cilantro, and serve immediately.
  8. If prepared in advance, allow the chili to cool in a shallow pan, then store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to a month. To serve, reheat the chili, adjusting the consistency with additional water as needed.

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