Spicy Three Bean Chili

It’s been so dreary this past week — all the thunderstorms and chilly weather — that I was really in the mood for a hot, hearty dinner. Something spicy, home-y, but healthy too: bean chili of course. Now I know that some of you in some parts of the country are screaming “beans in the chili?!” or even worse “tomatoes in the chili?!” and probably “no meat in the chili?!”, but it’s not that weird anymore to see bean chili, right? If we get past the semantics, I promise you will find here a good bowl of beans that will warm you to the core, literally and metaphorically. This is my new favorite way of making chili, especially now that I’m eating spicier and spicier food. If you like milder food, start with half the chile peppers, but don’t leave them out completely: they add a smoky, deep flavor which is essential for a good bowl of chili.

Spicy Three Bean Chilli
Serves 6
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
Prep Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
Total Time
1 hr
199 calories
17 g
25 g
13 g
5 g
6 g
347 g
3808 g
5 g
0 g
6 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
Amount Per Serving
Calories 199
Calories from Fat 118
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 13g
Saturated Fat 6g
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 5g
Cholesterol 25mg
Sodium 3808mg
Total Carbohydrates 17g
Dietary Fiber 3g
Sugars 5g
Protein 5g
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Chile paste
  1. 1 (100g) can of chile peppers in adobo sauce
  2. 3 tbsp corn meal
  3. 2 tsp oregano
  4. 2 tsp cumin
  5. 2 tsp cocoa
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  1. 1 large red onion
  2. 5 garlic cloves
  3. 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
  4. 4 cups of vegetable broth
  5. 3 cans of beans (15.5 oz each): black beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans (recommended)
Serve with
  1. cheddar cheese
  2. sour cream
  3. fresh cilantro
  4. lime
  1. Chile paste: To the bowl of a food processor add the chile peppers, corn meal, oregano, cumin, cocoa, salt and paprika. Puree all the ingredients into a paste and set aside. You can also do this by hand in a bowl, just dice up the chile peppers with a knife.
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic cloves. Wash the beans until they are clean of that canning goo.
  3. Heat a large pot over medium heat and add a little bit of oil. Sautee the onions for about 2 minutes, until they get translucent and start browning a little bit. Add the diced garlic cloves and sautee for another minute. Add your chile paste and keep stirring for about 2-3 minutes, until the whole mixture warms up and gets really fragrant. Be careful not to burn it! Add the diced tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring everything to a boil. As soon as it starts boiling, add the beans (I recommend black beans, red kidney beans and pinto beans, but of course you can choose your favorites) and turn down the heat to low. Simmer the chili for about 30 minutes, until the liquid reduces to a consistency you like. Keep in mind that the cornmeal thickens the chili as it starts simmering.
  4. Serve hot. Top with shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, fresh cilantro and lime juice.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
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