Three-Bean Chili with Tons of Garnishes

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1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
2 yellow onions, coarsely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bell peppers, any color, coarsely chopped
1 small eggplant, (peeled if desired) and cubed, or 3 small zucchini, cubed
1 tablespoon dried oregano, preferably greek
1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle chiles
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 to 2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
1 (16-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked)
1 (16-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 2 cups cooked)
4 (1-pound) cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over for stones
2 (20-ounce) cans whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped, including juice

Place a large stockpot over medium heat. When it is hot, add oil. Add the onions, garlic, peppers, eggplant or zucchini, oregano, chiles, red pepper flakes, cumin and cayenne. Cook until the vegetables are golden, about 10 minutes.

Lower the heat to low, add the beans, lentils and tomatoes and cook, partially covered, 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Transfer to a serving bowl and serve immediately. Or transfer to a large, shallow container, cover and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat gently.

Place garnishes in small bowls and let guests tailor their own servings.

Garnishes (use any or all): 1 large red onion, chopped; 2 to 3 red tomatoes, diced; 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped; 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves; 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves; 1/2 cup sour cream or plain yogurt; 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese; 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese; 2 avocados, diced; 2 limes, quartered.

Serves 6 or more.

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