Chili for a cold day

I have perfected a chili recipe.  It will not change your life, and it won't win any contests, but it is my favorite chili out there.  It is also easily made vegetarian/ vegan if that's your thing.  Actually it might change your life, I really shouldn't discount the power of a good chili!
This is not a chili recipe that is mostly sauce, with a few bites of meat in there.  This is a bunch of my favorite ingredients that happen to simmer together to reduce down into one of my favorite cold-weather meals.  It's pretty darn good on top of lettuce though, if you want to eat this in the summer and lighten it up a bit.  This is also pretty darn healthy, so you'll be full of good food and not feel bad about it!  I made this last week when Paula and Liz came over, and have been enjoying leftovers for lunch at work, yummm.

My ingredients list involves a lot of cans of things.  You are certainly welcome to sub in dried beans that you have soaked overnight, fresh corn, etc, I just don't know the amounts to tell you.  Sorry!
-1 tablespoon oil (canola, olive, whatever you have)
-A couple cloves garlic, minced
-1 yellow onion, diced
-1 lb ground beef (I use the leanest I can find, usually 96/4, but I understand if you use something else)
-2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 15 oz. can navy beans, rinsed and drained
-1 15 oz. can corn, drained
-1 can 28 oz diced tomatoes (or 2 15 oz. cans)
-1 jar of your favorite salsa- any heat level
-1 15 oz. can beef broth

Ok, see how many cans of things that is?  I hope you have recycling, for realz.  Also, I try to buy everything "low-sodium" or "no salt added", but sometimes that just isn't available.  The draining and rinsing should take care of a lot of it anyways.

The jar of salsa is my secret ingredient.  You already know you love the flavor of that salsa, so it just infuses the entire pot of chili with that spice as well.  I happen to use the tostitos stuff you find next to the tortilla chips, haha, classy, but it works!  This actually happened by accident one day because I only had one small can of tomatoes, and I was rooting around in my fridge trying to find something else to add to my (already started) chili.  I found a half-used jar of salsa in there, and figured it wouldn't hurt, and then loved the taste it added!  It also means I don't have to add cumin, chili powder, cayenne, etc (though if you want to kick up the spice, throw these in there, I won't be offended!).

So you ready for this one dish wonder?  Heat the oil in a large pot on medium to medium-high heat.  Throw the onions and garlic in there and saute them for a couple minutes to allow the onions to soften, and your kitchen to smell amazing.  Add the ground beef, breaking it up and cooking it until it's no longer pink at all.  While it's browning, I open all the cans- throwing the beans and corn into a colander in the sink to drain and rinse them.  Now dump everything into the pot.  Everything.  No order to this, no rhyme or reason.

Stir it all up and once everything is bubbling together, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer away until the chili thickens up and it doesn't look like a really full pot of soup.  Stir it occasionally (when you remember) and when you can't stand it any longer, grab a bowl and dive right in!
I only ever add frito's to my bowl of chili honestly :-)  But feel free to add sour cream, cheese, avocado...the list goes on and on.

And of course, if you want to make this vegetarian, swap out the meat with a meat substitution, or omit it entirely, and the beef broth easily becomes vegetable broth.  Or make this whole thing with ground turkey and chicken broth.  Seriously, this isn't a hardcore recipe you need to follow.  Sometimes I dice up a green pepper and add it in there with the onions and garlic.  This most recent time I had 3 roma tomatoes sitting on my counter, and I diced them up and added them to the pot.  I happen to dislike the texture of kidney beans (go figure?) so I never use em, but if you're partial, put em in there!  Just let your fridge and pantry dictate what you use :-)

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