Black Bean Chili

by Jan 20, 2008


Here’s a family dinner staple that I’m writing up especially for Elise, who has a hungry, construction-working nephew visiting this week!

My variations of this black bean chili are based on Margaret Fox’s Cafe Beaujolais recipe which itself originated at Greens, a vegetarian restaurant in San Francisco. I find this recipe very satisfying to make because you start by soaking then simmering hard, dry little black beans, later cook up onion and spices, and then you end up with a warm, yummy-smelling kitchen, and a delicious meal for a crowd — perfect on a foggy weekend afternoon.

Any leftovers freeze beautifully and make great lunches for toting along to work or reheating at home.  Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, tortillas, lime wedges, green onions, cilantro, all or some.  Enjoy!

Soak some beans tonight and you can get these cooking tomorrow. (If you want to cook them now, you can Quick Soak your beans in about an hour. See details here for “Overnight Soak” and “Quick Soak”.)

Black Bean Chili


  • 2 lb. dry black beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 28 oz. can crushed organic tomatoes
  • 1 4 oz. can diced green chiles or diced jalapeno chiles
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 green bell peppers, diced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 2 cloves garlic minced and mashed with 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tbsp ground paprika
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper (I leave this out when making for kids)

Serve with: warmed tortillas or tortilla chips, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions, and cilantro


  1. Soak the beans. Follow link above for Quick Soak or Overnight Soak.

  2. Put the soaked beans in a large pot and cover with water 2 - 3 inches above the beans. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until tender. Or use a slow cooker set to low for 8 hours.

  3. Place the cumin seeds in a large frying pan and cook over low heat until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add olive oil to the cumin seeds in the frying pan and raise the heat to medium. Once oil is warm, add the onions, bell pepper, garlic+salt mash, and spices. Cook for about 10 minutes until onions are soft. Then add the tomatoes and chiles. (You can do this step any time while the beans are simmering. Just set it aside and wait for the beans to finish.)

  4. Strain the beans, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water, and add it and the beans back to the same pot. Add the cooked onion and spice mixture from step 3 to the beans and heat through. Serve in warmed bowls with accompaniments mentioned above. Enjoy!

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