Smoky Three-Bean Chili



I'm always on the lookout for tasty meals that can be made with pantry ingredients. In fact, some of my very favorite recipes have come together spontaneously by using whatever odds and ends I had on hand. This warming, filling Smoky Three-Bean Chili was created in just such a way.

I keep my cupboard stocked with an assortment of canned beans, tomatoes and spices, and it's a rare day when I run out of onions. Sweet potatoes are another long-keeping treasure, and frozen corn is great for all kinds of soups, casseroles and salads. With these few ingredients alone, the chili is almost complete!

There are a couple ingredients here that may be unfamiliar, the first being poblano peppers. If you've ever worked with dried ancho chiles, which add a subtle heat and sweet smokiness to dishes, you're already familiar with the dried version of a poblano. Fresh poblanos look similar to bell peppers, but have a darker, thinner skin and a pointed end. I love them in chili, as they add a very gentle heat and tons of flavor. If you can't find poblanos in your grocery store, substitute bell peppers in your choice of color. Red is sweetest, followed by yellow and orange, then green.

Chipotle chili powder is the other — a great spice with a delicious, smoky flavor that will keep for ages.

If you'd like to make this recipe but lack only the chipotle chili powder, substitute additional chili powder, and add a pinch of cayenne pepper for a touch of spice.



For the Spice Blend:

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

For the Chili:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 yellow onion, chopped

  • 2 poblano (or bell) peppers, seeds removed, chopped

  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds and veins removed, minced

  • 4 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

  • 1 cup frozen corn, rinsed under warm water to defrost

  • 1 15.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)

  • 1 15.5-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)

  • 1 15.5-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups cooked beans)

  • 1 28-ounce can whole or chopped tomatoes, blended until smooth

  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or water)

  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste

  • Juice of 1/2 lime, plus lime wedges for serving

  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, for serving



  1. Make the spice blend: in a small bowl, mix together the chili powder, cumin, coriander, chipotle powder, and oregano, then set aside until needed.

  2. In a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat the olive oil.

  3. When hot, add the onion and a pinch of salt, and cook until beginning to soften, 4 to 5 minutes.

  4. Add the poblano and jalapeño peppers, and cook for an addition 3 to 4 minutes.

  5. Add the spice blend, and cook for an addition minute or two, until fragrant.

  6. Stir in the sweet potato, corn, beans, tomatoes, broth, and salt, then bring to a boil.

  7. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and allow to simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

  8. Add the lime juice, taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

  9. Serve with lime wedges and chopped cilantro.

NOTE: The chili will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. Cooled portions freeze beautifully and are best enjoyed within 3 months.