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Chickpeas & Chili.

This {vegan} chili started out innocently enough. Well. Ish. The details are still vivid in my mind.

I was shopping at Safeway. This is an important detail. Important because Superstore is my usual spot, you get points there, there's a free gift on aisle 49 after you've spent an exorbitant amount. You are told about this prize once you've already started waltzing toward those exit doors. They expect a simple 'nah'. But what can I say. I have, erm, German background. I try out my best excited face, similar to my face when someone finally agrees to working out with me, and I've been pestering them for two hours about it, and I was secretly hoping by this point they would just say no. That face. You know the one. So I trudge to the back of the store, glare at the offending free package. It's usually turkey wings, or something equally lacking in appeal. But. It's free. And I'm Mennonite. What can I say.

But this day was different. I was shopping in Safeway's serene environment. The apples were rosier, the floors sparkled, people smiled and bobbed their heads in joy, and well-behaved, well-dressed toddlers clutched their piece of free fruit in their adorable chubby hands (at Superstore the toddlers hurl their free cookies and laugh manically). It was balm for my soul. My cart spread its wings, it soared to lofty heights. It galloped through the produce section, tossed back its' head, and galloped through again. It swooped through the kombucha, dived head first into the yogurt, and sailed through the bakery. I clung on, giggling with the pure joy of being alive. I hummed as I loaded the grocery belt up. Colours and smells radiated. Beauty. Joy. Bountiful piles of nourishing, lovely food. Shrimp scampi with asparagus and lemon zest, steaming crusty sourdough, chia pudding piled with fresh fruit, and green beans with the perfect amount of garlic butter. My imagination sent shivers down my spine.

The smiling cashier made no mention of bags, made no scoffing sound when I admitted I had forgotten my reusable bags at home. She motioned another happy human over. He. He put my groceries INTO MY FREE BAGS. Awe. Wonder.

The paying process did prove to be somewhat more realistic. Large amount. Gulp. Head for the exit. I mean tap first, then exit. But still, that warmth lingered. Even as I hauled in the groceries, filled my fridge and pantry, that happiness lingered on. There's just something about your neighbourhood Safeway. It's home.

This warm feeling was interrupted by a call. I was making a flavourful chili at the time. Happily dicing the butternut squash I had bought. It was going to be a smoky vegetable chili, filled with vegetables, garlic and the perfect amount of spice. I planned to add chicken. There would be meat. The call, however, changed that.

I have a tendency to be passive aggressive when triggered. This call was innocent, thoughtful even. It was just the old 'Running late, won't be home for awhile, you can eat without me' call. I was triggered. My one day off, how could this be happening to me? And I was actually making supper! Oh the drama. Oh calamity! Such nerve. I will come up with a brilliant plot of revenge. So I didn't add the chicken. I called that Wednesday night a Meatless Monday, I skipped the meat. To me, and maybe to you, this detail is insignificant. But to my carnivorous husband, this detail is the culprit of any hunger pang, ounce of weight loss, abdominal pain, cold/flu onset, mood change, perceived decreased strength, stock market crash, or NDP victory. It's huge.

In the end, the joke was on me. He loved it. He ate two bowls full. He didn't even ask where I'd bought the lovely groceries. It was just another Meatless Wednesday at the Smiths'. It was an anticlimactic experience.

So here it it, in all it's meatless, smoky, wonder.

-1 T olive oil

-1 onion, diced

-3 garlic cloves

-2 T fresh ginger, peeled and minced

-1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes

-1 14 oz. can crushed tomatoes

-1 can green chilies

-2 cups vegetable broth

-3 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced

-1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced

-1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

-dash liquid smoke

-1/4 cup maple syrup

-1 T chili powder

-1 t smoked paprika

-1/2 t cayenne pepper

-1/4 cup wholegrain mustard

-1 14 oz can chickpeas

-salt & pepper, to taste

Coat bottom of large pot with olive oil and place on medium heat. Add onion, saute about 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for additional minute.

Add ginger, tomatoes, broth, butternut squash, sweet potato, apple, liquid smoke, maple syrup, spices, and mustard. Bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 45 minutes, or until potatoes and squash are tender.

Meanwhile, line cookie sheet with parchment paper. Drain chickpeas and pour into pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice. Broil for 5 minutes.

Stir into hot soup, spoon into bowls, and enjoy.

Great topped with avocado, fresh salsa, sour cream, and taco chips.

*Carnivore approved*


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