Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

April 10, 2015
Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili - A smoky black bean vegetarian chili that's hot, healthy, and delicious

 “I don’t believe one can settle on how much we ought to give.

I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare”    ~ C.S. Lewis

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At least once during the week, I scour the fridge for its neglected contents.  This week was better than most, only a few remnants of carrots, and onion could be found lying along the bottom of the vegetable drawer.

Toward the back, hiding behind the pitchers of water and almond milk, were a few bunches of sad, soggy herbs.  Everything finding its way into the garbage

Once the fridge has been reaped of its humble contents, I’ll take a cursory pass through cupboards.  Today, as I dug deep, a curious kitty knocked the jar of beans from the kitchen counter.  Another at the ready below, batting them around as they scattered over the kitchen floor

Our cupboards are always full, and after a trip to the grocery our fridge will be replenished as well

“Remember to never take this for granted.”

Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili - A smoky black bean vegetarian chili that's hot, healthy, and delicious

Every year as we turn the calendar’s page to April, I smile as I’m reminded of the campaign to Live Below the Line.  Such a beautiful organization, if there ever was one

If you’ve never heard of Live Below the Line, prepare yourself to be inspired.  Its members on a crusade to change the way people perceive poverty, not just with information, but with action.

Each year during the last week of April  (this year the dates are:  April 27th – May 1st) each of its participants is challenged to live on the U.S. equivalent of the International Extreme Poverty Line.  That’s $1.50 of food per day, for five days!  In fact, according to their website, this is the amount 1.4 billion people live below every day  (that’s over four times the population of the entire United States)

My goodness, what a sobering statistic.  I’m not sure I can even begin to put my mind around it


Each person who takes part in the challenge also has the opportunity to raise money for their choice of the charity’s many partners.  These are the kinds of organizations with worldwide networks of volunteers and staff who are humbly doing what they can to end world hunger, day-in-and-day-out

This year our dear friend Kate, along with her 8-year-old son, Lucas, will be embarking on her 4th(!) campaign.  As with everything she does, I can’t wait to follow her journey.  If I know her, it’ll be far from boring

“Hunger is no game, and there are no odds in anyone’s favor if we allow it to persist.  Every 6th child in the U.S. is food insecure, and the picture is grimmer world-wide.  So, I’m doing this for my son, for the four hungry kids in his class, and for the future in which we finally stop saying, ‘Well, it’s always been this way .. ‘

It might have been, but it doesn’t have to be anymore.  Let’s get cooking”   ~ Kate

All of the money they raise will be donated to The Hunger Project.  A worldwide, grass-roots organization that’s committed to a sustainable end to world hunger.  One whose mission is to empower people to lead lives of self-reliance, giving them the knowledge and skills they need to stand on their own, and build better futures for themselves and their children.

If you’d like to follow Kate and Lucas during their week of living on $3.00/day total (!) or to donate to The Hunger Project on their behalf – you can do so here

To learn more about Live Below the Line, or even consider starting a campaign of your own, more information can be found here

Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili 3-650x

Photo Credit: Live Below the Line

If you’re a follower of The Veggies, you’ll be familiar with a theme that’s been tightly woven into the inner fabric of who I am.  From one of my favorite passages in the Bible, God’s call to Abram.  His promises of incredible blessings, and a reminder that through him (Abram) so many others will be blessed as well

“And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and though shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”   (Genesis 12: 2-3)

May I always hold it close, and may I never forget how very

“Blessed (I am) to be a blessing (may I never forget to be)”

This afternoon, as the kitties played with stray beans the broom had missed, I created a soup from ingredients we had on hand.

The hope that it represents something far greater than the dinner I keep watch over as it simmers on the stove-top.  Instead, highlighting two beautiful people, we love very much.  They truly are a blessing, not only to those around them but too many they’ll never know.

My hope?  If you’re someone like me, who’s been blessed with an overflowing cupboard, and a fridge that needs periodic cleaning, you’ll consider a donation to her cause, or take a moment to send a quiet word of encouragement.

“Thank-you Kate and Lucas, for who you are, and all that you do.”

Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili - A smoky black bean vegetarian chili that's hot, healthy, and delicious

I’ve come to enjoy bean-based chills.  They’re easy, healthy, and delicious, with a seemingly endless supply of recipe ideas to be found.  They’re quick and easy comfort food, especially once your favorite toppings have been added

This is the kind of meal that’s perfect for serving when having guests for dinner.  You can plan on expending no more than a moderate level of effort, as well as an inexpensive trip to the grocery.  Our favorite way to eat chili?  With a warm cast-iron pan of cornbread, off to the side  (I’ve included our favorite gluten-free version below)

Certainly, you could use canned beans here, but to me, it’s worth it to plan ahead.  Soaking and cooking them from scratch really does make for a fresher tasting bean, with a texture that is hard to beat.  Don’t fear the long list of spices; it’s made up for with a shorter list of ingredients.

Though I didn’t specifically call for it in the instructions, there’s a lot of play when it comes to the chili’s final texture.  It can be thinned a bit, by adding more broth as it simmers.  Or a smoother texture can be created by running an immersion blender through the pot.



~ Adapted from Bon Appetit | September 2004

Smoky Vegetarian Black Bean Chili


  • ½ lb dry black beans
  • ½ lb dry kidney beans
  • (If using canned beans, you'll need to add about 6 cups in total)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • pinch of fine-grain sea salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 medium-sized yellow onions, diced (~ 2 cups)
  • 2 medium-sized red bell peppers, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (heat of your choice and more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • ¼ tsp chipotle powder
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less, depending on your tolerance for heat)
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup beer
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 - 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 (28 oz) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, including the juice
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1 dried Chipotle chili, chopped fine (if you like a bit more heat, include the seeds)
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

  • For Serving
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt
  • green onions chopped (white and green parts)
  • grated Monterey Jack cheese


  • Soak and Cook the Beans
  • Pick through the beans and rinse them well
  • In a large bowl, cover them generously with water, and let them soak overnight. The next day, drain and rinse the beans and then transfer them to a large pot.
  • Add enough water to cover the beans by a couple of inches, along with the bay leaves, and a pinch of sea salt.
  • Bring the water to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and allow the beans to cook for 1 - 1 ½ hours, or until they're thoroughly cooked
  • Rinse, drain, and set them aside

  • Make the Chili
  • In a heavy large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil.
  • When the oil is hot, add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic; sauté until the onions have softened (~ 10 minutes)
  • Add the spices, stirring to coat the onions and bell peppers. Cook an additional 2 or 3 minutes, until fragrant
  • Add the beer, water, and 1 cup broth, the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and the dried Chipotle chili
  • Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes.
  • Add the beans and apple cider vinegar. If you like your chili thinner, add another ½ -1 cup of broth.
  • Simmer another 15 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend, and the chili to thicken, stirring occasionally
  • Season to taste with additional sea salt, pepper, or spices

  • To Serve
  • Ladle chili into bowls.
  • Garnish each serving with cilantro, avocado, chopped green onions, and sour cream (or Greek yogurt).
  • The chili will keep covered, in the fridge for up to a week. It also freezes beautifully
Serves: 6
Nutrition + Show
Calories 420
Total Fat 8g
Saturated Fat 1.1g
Carbohydrates 66.2g
Fiber 23.2g
Sugars 12.8g
Protein 19.1g
Print This Recipe


~ Cornbread adapted from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: 125 Easy Recipes for Eating Well on the Cheap

Gluten-Free Cornbread


  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal, coarsely ground
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg, beaten (large or XL)
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter melted, but not hot
  • 1 ½ cups Greek yogurt (or buttermilk)
  • ¼ cup honey


  • Preheat oven to 400° F
  • Prepare your cooking vessel. (I've had good luck with a 10" cast iron skillet, 2 6" cast iron skillets, or an 8 x 8" square pan)
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients
  • In a separate bowl, mix the wet ingredients until they're well combined
  • Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix until just combined. It will be relatively thin (thinner if using buttermilk).
  • Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 20 minutes (a little longer if not using a cast iron skillet), or lightly golden brown on top and around the edges, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean
  • Slice and serve immediately (it's best when warm and drizzled with a bit of honey)
Serves: 8
Nutrition + Show
Calories 220
Total Fat 7.8g
Saturated Fat 4g
Carbohydrates 34g
Fiber 2.2g
Sugars 10.5g
Protein 8.1g
Print This Recipe

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1 Comment

  • Reply Ana De- Jesus April 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Chilli’s are one of my favourite meals to make and your right they are good comfort food. They would be perfect for me right now as I have left over black beans xx

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