Chili with Three Kinds of Beans (could be vegetarian)

I can’t call this “veggie chili” because I used a little worcestershire sauce as well as beef broth. You could easily leave out the worcestershire sauce and use water or vegetable broth if you want veggie chili, though.

Ok, so we’ve established over and over that I don’t follow recipes. I thought you might be interested in how I change recipes so you can get some ideas on how to change them when you cook. I have been to many cooking classes where people ask about changes and if they can sub this or that so I know that it’s a real thing that people do and are sometimes confused by. It’s not all that hard if you think about swapping out ingredients that are similar, or exchanging some herb or spice for one you like better. It also helps to remember other versions of the dish you’re making that you’ve had before and what ingredients they had that were different.

I started with this recipe.

It called for:

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, which I used. I usually don’t bother to measure it, I just swirl it to cover the bottom of the pan.
  • 1 cup prechopped onion, I don’t use prechopped things. I had a half a leek on hand and a half a yellow onion I needed to use, so I chooped those up instead. Leeks are in the same family as onions, so it worked fine. You can usually substitute red onions, white onions, yellow onions, any kind of onions, as well as leeks or green onions for each other in things like soups, stews, and chilis. Leeks aren’t good raw, though, so be sure to use them where they need to be cooked.
  • 1/2 cup prechopped green bell pepper. Again with the prechopped. Do I look like a millionaire? How hard is it really to chop a pepper anyway? So, ok, I had a whole green pepper that was looking a little sad and I wanted to just use the whole thing, so I did. You could leave it out if you don’t have one or don’t like them. You could also sub red or orange bell peppers. See where we’re going with this?
  • 2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic. Ugh, bottled garlic is the worst thing in the world. It is so disgusting.  Do yourself a favor and use the real thing. I used three cloves of garlic that I pressed in a garlic press. Garlic presses are controversial but I don’t like getting garlic all over my hands so I use one instead of a knife.
  • 3/4 cup water. I didn’t bother with this. It didn’t seem to need it. Use your own judgement when recipes call for liquids.
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste. Do you all know the trick of tomato paste? You know how annoying those little cans are? I just scoop it out into a zippered sandwich bag and flatten it, then put it in the freezer. When I need to use some, it’s really easy to just cut off a piece- eyeballing the amount. If you don’t have any, it won’t kill you to leave it out.
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder. Had that. You kind of really need chili powder for chili, but I could see sort of making your own with spices you have around.
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin. Had that, too.
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Yep.
  • Here’s where I did my own thing. I love smoked paprika. Since this was a meatless chili I thought it could use some of that smokiness. I used 1 tablespoon of smoked paprika. I also thought worcestershire sauce would add some depth so I used 5 or 6 drops of worcestershire sauce, too. Annnnnd I went ahead and used a tiny amount of cinnamon and cocoa- I have had chili before that called for cinnamon and cocoa, but I don’t like it when there’s a lot of either in it, so I took it easy, adding just 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, and 1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained. I had a can of white beans so I used those instead (rinsed and drained).
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained. Had these.
  • 1 (15 1/2-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained. Had these.
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can organic vegetable broth (such as Swanson Certified Organic). I had a couple of cups of leftover watered down beef broth left over from another project so I used that instead. You can use whatever broth you want, or even water. It won’t be as rich with water. You also don’t have to follow the amount of liquid exactly, use your own judgement about how thin or thick you want your dish to be.
  • 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained. I had a large can of whole tomatoes so I used half of it. I didn’t chop them up or anything, they just fell apart nicely while cooking.
  • 1 tablespoon yellow cornmeal. This is usually my go-to for thickening chili, but mine didn’t need any thickening this time.
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro for garnish.
  • 6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream. I rarely use sour cream. I normally sub plain yogurt which works well. This is optional, if you like a creamy thing on top of your chili.
  • I also put some shredded cheddar on top.

It’s a pretty straightforward procedure. Swirl the olive oil into the pan and when it’s heated up add the onions, leeks, whatever, and the bell peppers and cook them on medium till they’re soft. Then add the garlic making sure it doesn’t burn. Then the tomato paste, spices, worcestershire sauce, and cocoa, cooking just a minute till it all gets fragrant. Then add the beans, the broth or water, and the canned tomatoes. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook it. You can do it for as little as 10 minutes (everything is basically cooked already), or as long as an hour- or more, I don’t know exactly how long, I did it for like 45 minutes. It’s chili so nothing bad will happen to it if you cook it for a long time, provided you keep adding liquid and stirring so it doesn’t get too thick or burn on the bottom.

Three Bean Chili


I served it topped with the cilantro, yogurt, and cheese and a green salad and some cornbread.

Three Bean Chili with cilantro, cheddar cheese, and plain yogurt

I know there are a million ways to make chili, what are some of your favorite ingredients?