Monday, November 7, 2011

Three Bean Chili for the Chill

There is a chill outside now. Not the crisp, delightful fall air, but a deep chill. This is the first year my son, Sam, has been driving and since he takes the car to school a couple days a week, he’s been learning about scraping frosty windows and turning on the rear defrost on these dark, cold mornings. Where did fall go? Didn’t it just arrive? Our trees still have their gorgeous red, gold and burnt orange leaves, yet it feels as if autumn is slipping away. Quickly.

I am craving heavier food now, food that will nourish and sustain my family. This Three Bean Chili comes through every time. It can be prepared using pantry staples – I always keep canned beans on hand for those times I haven’t soaked/cooked dry beans – and just requires whatever garnishes you prefer: onions, cheese, sour cream (and don’t forget the cornbread ...). The chili can easily simmer on a back burner and be ready to enjoy after coming in from a frosty day. It also improves after a day or so, making it ideal to prepare on Sunday and have stashed in the fridge for a weeknight meal.

Chili always evokes winter for me. It’s remarkable how the seasons influence our palates and desires. The fresh basil and tomatoes of summer give way to fall’s squash and apples, and now I want winter’s rich, hearty soups and slow cooked dishes full of beans, greens and root veggies. I am quite happy with each season’s bounty - I appreciate the variety and savor what each has to offer. I know when spring arrives I’ll be pouncing on fresh asparagus and tiny strawberries with gusto.

Until then, I’ll light candles, wrap up by a crackling fire, sip steaming cups of sweet tea and be warmed by a simmering stew.

**This chili recipe is linked back to the Soup Blog Hop hosted by Katherine where you will find a great array of soup and stew recipes to enjoy.

Three Bean Chili
Serves 6-8

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 jalapeno chiles, sliced in half, stems and seeds removed (or more to taste)
2 tablespoons chili powder (I used a medium spiced one)
1 tablespoon paprika
4 teaspoons cumin
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 12 ounce bottle of beer (I use a dark beer, such as Guinness)
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped, juices reserved
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
6 15 ounce cans of beans (a combination of pinto, black and kidney), drained and rinsed
Green onions for serving
Sour cream for serving
Shredded cheddar cheese for serving

In a large soup pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and sauté until soft. Add the jalapenos, chili powder, cumin, cocoa powder, pepper and salt. Stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour in the beer, and add the tomatoes, the juices, tomato paste and beans. Stir and cook until it just starts to bubble. Partially cover the pot, lower heat to very low and let simmer for about an hour. Stir a few times to make sure it does not stick to the bottom. If you prefer the chili to be thicker, uncover for the last 10 minutes or so.

Serve with onions, sour cream, cheese or other favorite garnishes.


  1. This looks great. I will remember it when I come out from under my CSA box. I love that there's cocoa powder in there.

  2. I love chili! I usually have to make it pretty bland for my boys, though... =( If you're not afraid of pressure cookers, they're great for cooking dried beans quickly. I love mine!

  3. This looks so delicious and right up my street - I love anything with beans in it and I find I am using them more and more. I love the fact this has 3 different types it must add such a lovely variety of taste and texture. Will definitely be trying this. See you soon at!

  4. @tipsybaker
    Thank you, Jennifer! btw, just read your chapter on duck eggs...I have reaffirmed that we are chicken people - I'll stick to getting duck eggs at the farmer's market.

  5. @B
    B, you can leave out the jalapenos and use a milder chili powder - I've made it that way before (and served jalapenos on the side for those who want to spice it up).

    I've given thought to a pressure cooker - I know there's quite a bit I could use one for. What kind do you have?

  6. @Alex Evelyn
    Thank you, Alex! I've been using beans more, too - they are just so healthy and tasty, and provide such good protein. I hope you enjoy the chili!

  7. So comforting,,,I will have to save this for later! I love a bowl of chilli with all the trimmings, that photo makes me want to dive right in.

  8. @Mairi
    Thanks, Mairi! We're having blustery weather here so it may be time for more chili. Hope you are enjoying some warmth and sunshine!


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