A few weeks ago on Halloween, we got together and made some chili. It was an amazing chili- spicy and filling, with hearty beans, savory buffalo, and the star of the show (in my opinion)- roasted yams. There was something about the sweetness the yams brought to the chili that was delicious, I loved the flavor contrast and began thinking of ways to incorporate the sweet-and-spicy combination into my own cooking.
The only problem? he hates yams, sweet potatoes, butternut squash any sweet root vegetable, really. But he ate the leftover chili house with fervor, loving it the whole way through- I didnt even get a taste of the leftovers, he finished them off.
So the other day, I decided to go for it. I set some dried beans in water in my fridge to soak and set out to write a recipe. And thus, the best vegetarian chili I have ever made was born.
The beans in this chili can be prepared in two ways. You can soak, rinse and add them straight to the simmering chili as I did, but it requires quite a bit of care, stirring, adding more water as needed, etc- and takes a long time. Or, you can pre-soak, rinse and cook the beans, adding when the recipe notes and save yourself almost an hour of cooking time. Either way, I would use the dried beans, theyre so much better than canned- but canned works if you wish.
Sweet Potato Cocoa Chili
1 medium onion, diced
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic
2 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato or yam
2 heaping tbsp tomato paste
1 cup canned diced tomatoes
1 14-oz can tomato sauce
2 cups vegetable stock
2+ cups water (more if you are cooking beans in chili)
3 cups beans, dried and soaked (or 2 cans)- I used black beans and kidney beans
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp coriander
cayenne and red pepper flakes to taste
1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
salt, if desired
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil to medium high heat in a large pot. Add diced onions and sautee until softened, about 4-5 minutes.
Add bell pepper, stir and sautee for another 5 minutes or so, add garlic and stir for 1 minute.
Reduce heat to medium, stir in tomato paste. When incorporated, add diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and stir.
Add stock and 2 cups water, bring to a boil. Add beans and stir.
Add spices, cayenne and red pepper flakes to taste and cocoa powder.
Stir until combined. Bring to a boil again and reduce to a simmer.
If using cooked/canned beans, then simmer 30-45 minutes until flavors meld.
If using soaked beans, simmer rapidly for 1- 1-1/2 hours until beans are fully cooked. Stir every 15-30 minutes to assure beans are not sticking to bottom of pan. Add extra water as needed- I needed two extra cups.
Served with a sprinkle of lime juice and chopped cilantro, if desired.
Note: It was pointed out by a reader than there is a similar-sounding recipe in Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton (Cocoa-coconut chili) I can assure you this is NOT the same recipe- in fact, though I own the book I have never cooked that recipe! And if you read the two recipes, they are very different. Sorry about the confusion!