White Chili à la Provençale {vegetarian}

A year or so ago I went to a chili cook off here in Aix.  I of course made a pot with my dad’s recipe.  A classic ground beef & pork combination with some lovely chili powders he orders from Pendery’s in Texas.  When he makes it it’s great.  When I made it…it was less great.  But, the cook off was still fun and we had a great time tasting maybe 15 completely different types of chili.  You could enter your chili into one of 3 categories: Most Original, Hottest and Most French.  My dad’s recipe is classic, so I went with original, but the French category was the most interesting to me.  I have been meaning to create a version of my own ever since then, and today I ‘got around to it.’

If you were making a quintessential ‘french’ chili, what might you put into it?  The French don’t exactly “do” chili.  Our french friends know what it is and have enjoyed the pots I bring on our ski trips, but it’s probably not something they ever make at home.  However, if they did, these are the items I think they would use.  I think it would have to be white.  You could sort of make a boeuf bourgignon or daube edition of chili, but the french don’t really even use chili powder….not in their everyday cooking anyway.  In order to make it ‘provencale’ that means I have to add a bouquet garni of herbes de Provence.  Naturally.  And the final essential item would be a creamy texture, created by a quasi béchamel sauce.

That is what I have done here in the recipe.  I think it turned out brilliantly.  You can make it yourself and let me know if you feel the same way.

Vegetarian White Chili à la Provençale

4 Cups of Cooked White Beans (2 cups dry)

Chard – A handful of leaves, maybe 5-7, remove stems and chop small

2 Handfuls of Button or Baby Bella Mushrooms- cleaned, de-stemmed, quartered

2 Tbs. Butter – to brown the mushrooms

2 Branches of Celery – Chopped

2 Leeks – Just Whites sliced thinly

2 Cloves Garlic – minced

2 Cups Dehydrated Soy Bits

Bouquet Garni – Rosemary, Thyme, Bay Leaf

Handful of Parsley – coarsely chopped

Bechamel Sauce

3 tbs. Butter

5 tbs. Flour

4 Cups of Warm Milk

  1. Cook the dried white beans with the bouquet garni and no salt; then drain all but 2 cups of the cooking liquid
  2. In a small stock pot or dutch oven, brown the mushrooms in the butter; remove and put aside
  3. Sautee the celery, leeks and chard in a bit of olive oil; toss in the garlic once wilted
  4. Add the butter, then the flour for the béchamel and cook for 2-3 minutes while stirring
  5. Off of the fire, slowly stir in the milk until there are no lumps
  6. Place back onto the fire and let the sauce thicken; then add reserved liquid a cup at a time, allowing to thicken each time (careful not to get the stock too thin; 1 1/2 cups might be enough)
  7. Add the beans and a few pinches of coarse sea salt; cook for 5-10 minutes to allow all of the flavors to meld
  8. Stir in the soy protein, mushrooms and parsley; let stand for 10 minutes
  9. Add salt and pepper to your liking then serve

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