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Soul Food Gets Dorm Cozy

November starts to get chilly. In college, my friends and I would stop our outdoor adventures and become more comfortable indoors. We would normally watch old movies while drinking coffee and eating pastries from the bakery near campus at The New School.

One cold fall day, my friend Emily and I talked about our favorite chilly day recipes. Naturally, family-proud chili came up. We started to crave the warmth and soul good chili can bring.

We found a recipe for vegetable chili in a Pampered Chef cookbook. We adapted the recipe for the microwave, making it dorm friendly.

What you’ll need:

1 can of diced tomatoes

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tbsp of chili powder

½ tsp of salt

1 medium squash

1 medium onion

1 medium poblano pepper

1 tsp olive oil (divided)

3 tbsp tomato paste

1 can chili beans in sauce

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine tomatoes, pressed garlic, chili powder, and salt in a large micro-cooker. Microwave on high for 5-7 minutes, or until simmering. Remove from microwave and set aside.

  2. Seed and dice squash. Dice onion and poblano pepper. Add ½ tsp of oil. Put the onion and pepper in the microwave for 4 more minutes until, sizzling. This will caramelize the onion and pepper. Add squash; cook in the microwave for 3 more minutes or until tender. Set aside.

  3. Add remaining ½ tsp of olive oil to the mixture. Put the tomato paste in the microwave for 30 seconds, or until the paste starts to simmer. Stir immediately. It might take a few more times in the microwave.

  4. Add tomato paste to the mixture. Heat beans for 2 minutes, or until simmering.

  5. Add the beans to the mixture. Place back in the microwave for 4-5 minutes, or until the chili is thickened, stirring occasionally.

  6. As the chili simmers, chop the cilantro. Stir cilantro into the chili. Serve with cheese and sour cream, if desired.

This makes enough chili for two meals, or enough to share with a best friend. Em and I doubled the recipe. Nothing makes a fall day more perfect than buddies, movies, and dorm-made chili.

James Clark enjoys yoga and hails from Meridian, Texas. He attends The New School of Public Engagement.

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