Combine a cold day with a pot of chili, and you have the perfect meal. Even though it is a vegetarian recipe, this black bean chili is filling, warm, and spicy enough to warm up the coldest kitchen. Double it and you can have leftovers for a couple of days. It is a snap to put together, and all of the ingredients are easy to keep on hand.
It took me way too long to compile a good spice rack, but certain staples have become indispensible. Cumin and chili powder are essential chili-making spices; without them, you will lack the right balance of flavor. Cayenne pepper provides the heat, but you can always add some Tabasco at the end if you like. Even though spices can be expensive investments, they can make or break a recipe. Save money by buying dried beans and stock up on some good spices.
Over the last year or so, I have taken to using dried beans because they are inexpensive and reduce waste. Even though it takes longer to cook dried beans, doing so allows you to control the amount of salt in the dish. And it is passive cooking time—just check in on it once in a while and add more water if the liquid is lower than the beans. Luckily, an hour bubbling away on the stovetop also gives this chili time to develop it rich flavor. Pair it with some cornbread, and you have the perfect winter meal.
Black Bean Chili
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
½ pound dried black beans, sorted and soaked overnight (or 3 cans black beans, drained)
4-6 cups water
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt (omit if using canned beans)
1 can diced tomatoes
Toppings: Grated cheese, sour cream, tortilla chips, green onions, Tabasco sauce, etc.
In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onions, green pepper, and garlic until softened, about 10 minutes. Add beans and enough water to cover. Stir in spices and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce to a simmer and partially cover the pot. Simmer for 1 hour. Check on chili occasionally, adding more water if necessary. When beans are tender, spoon into bowls and top with desired toppings.