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Cynthia's Chili with Polenta Croutons

When I worked at a natural food store waaaaaay back in time, this chili recipe was the hit to end all hits. Vegan, delicious, meaty and completely satisfying, you'll love it.

1-inch piece kombu 
1/2 cup each pinto beans and kidney beans, soaked together for 6-8 hours(you 
may also use organic prepared beans to save cooking time in this recipe) 
1/2 cup each winter squash, carrot, onion and celery, large dice 
1 cup millet, rinsed and drained 
soy sauce 
generous pinch cumin powder 
1-2 teaspoons chili powder 
spring or filtered water 
1 recipe polenta, cut into 1-inch squares, see below 
1-2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil 

2 1/2 cups spring or filtered water 
pinch sea salt 
1/2 cups yellow corn grits 
1/2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

If you are using dried beans, soak them as instructed. Place kombu in the bottom of a pressure cooker, add beans and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, uncovered and cook at a rolling boil for about 10 minutes (this helps dispel some of the gas in the beans). Cover, bring to full pressure. Reduce heat to low and cook for 35 minutes. Allow pressure to reduce naturally and open the pot. Stir in cumin and chili powder to taste and simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered.

Next, in a soup pot, layer the onion, celery, squash, carrot, millet and on top, the cooked, spiced beans. Add water to cover all ingredients and sprinkle lightly with soy sauce. Cover, bring to a boil, lower and cook over low heat for 35 minutes, until millet becomes creamy and chili takes on a thick, "meaty" texture. While chili is cooking, prepare the polenta as per recipe and pour into a shallow dish to set. Slice into 1-inch squares. Heat enough olive oil in a skillet to cover the bottom and cook polenta squares until golden brown on both sides. Garnish each bowl of chili with a few polenta croutons and serve with crusty whole grain bread and lightly cooked vegetables. 

Lightly oil a deep casserole dish. Meanwhile, bring water and cornmeal for polenta to a boil with salt. Reduce heat to low and cook over low heat until polenta pulls away from the pan and the middle heaves, about 25 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent sticking. 


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