For a brief period last week, the heat wave that has been the summer of 2011 broke and we were teased with Fall-like temperatures. The windows were open, I had on a sweatshirt, and all seemed fine and good with the world. I started craving things like pumpkin cheesecake pots and cranberry applesauce. This little break from the sweltering heat happened to fall on a day when I was making our menu for the week. I decided I must make chili, because the weather is just asking for it! So it went on the menu.
But by the time it came to fire up the ole soup pot, Fall had gone back in its hiding spot and hot and humid weather had returned. I thought about scrapping my dream of a chili supper, but then I realized that chili is actually the perfect summer meal. Think about all the ingredients in chili—peppers, tomatoes, onions, fresh herbs—all items that are currently being produced by the literal truckload at your local farm. So instead of pushing out my desire for chili until October, I whipped together a recipe for summer chili using fresh veggies from the garden.
The result is a hearty, yet light version of the winter classic. The flavors are brilliant and vibrant thanks to the abundance of vine-ripened tomatoes and the addition of chicken in place of heavier red meat keeps the soup feeling summer-y. And since it is all pulled together in the slow cooker, there is no need to heat up your kitchen by using the stove. Bonus? This is an excellent way to use up the insane amount of tomatoes that are currently rendering your kitchen table unusable. If you have that problem. For example.
Because the broth for the chili is a little bit thinner than the standard heavy chili base, I served mine over top a bed of brown rice. The rice soaks up the sauce and adds a nice hearty grain to the mix. If you are still a little concerned about serving a chili in the middle of the summer, all you have to do is serve it alongside a cold, frozen margarita. Balance at its finest.
Damn. Now I want a margarita.
Slow Cooker Summer Chicken Chili
As standard with my recipes, this one is pretty mild on the spice-o-meter. If you want it to pack an extra punch, keep in the seeds from the jalapeno or toss in another hot pepper.
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 10 ounces frozen corn
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno, seeds removed, finely diced
- 2 pounds tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons cumin
- 1 tablespoon oregano
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 large, boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)
- Combine all ingredients except for the chicken breasts in the basin of a large slow cooker.
- Place chicken breasts on top and close slow cooker.
- Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 8-10.
- 30 minutes before serving, remove chicken and shred using two forks. Return to chili and stir well.