Chipotle Black Bean Chili

Those who like it extra spicy will love this black bean chili recipe I got from Café Latte in St. Paul, Minnesota a few years back. A reader requested the recipe from the restaurant when I wrote a Q & A food column for the St. Paul Pioneer Press, and Café Latte obliged—but in restaurant-sized quantities. So I had to do some fancy division and subtraction to get down to a recipe I could fit in my largest soup pot. This is still a massive amount of soup, but it always gets gobbled up in a hurry. Served over a bowl of brown rice, it’s a filling, satisfying meal. If you can take the heat! (Which I can’t, so I make this as a gift of love to my husband and sons who DO like their food on the spicy side.)

Serves 10-12

4 (14 ounce) cans black beans
1 (14 ounce) can pinto beans
1 (14 ounce) can dark red kidney beans
2 )14 ounce) cans corn
1½ cups yellow onions, diced
2½ cups carrots, peeled and chopped
2½ tablespoons chili powder
1½ tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons chipotle powder
6 cups water
3 tablespoons vegetable soup base or chicken soup base*
Half of 7 ounce can chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
2 (14 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 ounce) can tomato puree or sauce
2 cups canned, roasted red peppers, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice

Fresh cilantro, chopped
Sour cream

Drain and rinse beans and corn. In large Dutch oven or stock pot, sauté onions until translucent. Add carrots and continue to sauté until carrots are tender to the fork. Add garlic and sauté until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle chili powder, cumin, salt, chipotle powder over onion mixture, and stir to combine. Roast spices and onion mixture for a few minutes. Add water and soup base, and stir to combine. Bring mixture to a boil; then add chipotle peppers, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce or puree, roasted peppers, beans, and corn. Return to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Serve over cooked rice, and top with cilantro and sour cream.

*NOTE: Soup base is a less salty and more flavorful way to make soup than using bouillon or vegetable/chicken stock. It’s first ingredient is vegetable or meat, and salt is lower down the list. I prefer to use this in soup whenever I can, and usually buy only the chicken base as I use it in other soup recipes as well. But if you’re trying to go strict vegetarian with this recipe, you’ll want to buy the vegetable soup base.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Rice Bowl IMG_0601You’ll yield a wonderful, slow-cooked flavor when you simmer this black bean soup on the stove top. This is a Saturday soup as it needs a few hours of simmering to soften the beans, but it’s totally worth the wait. Serve this over some über-healthy brown rice and it’s a whole meal. 

It makes a hearty batch—about a gallon—so you’ll have plenty leftover for lunch at the office, or dinner some night when you’re in a rush. I usually package up a quart to give to my son Justin who lives on his own, and he’s always thrilled to get this in his “mom” bag. Another plus to this recipe? It’s a budget buster. I think I figured this costs about a buck a bowl to make. As for the origins of this recipe, I got it from my girlfriend’s mother several years ago, and it’s scribbled on the back of a hockey practice schedule. I can’t tell you any more than that!

(My husband thinks I should have captioned this photo: “Husband starves to death while wife does photo shoot of his dinner for blog.” He’s fine, people, really, he’s just fine.)

Serves 8

1 pound dry black beans
1 teaspoon vinegar
1 ham shank or meaty ham bone
1 yellow onion, chopped
¾ cup celery, chopped
½ to 1 green pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 can (15 ounce) tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon oregano
1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package directions
Sour cream (optional)

Cover the black beans with cold water in large Dutch oven, and soak overnight. Drain and rinse beans, then add fresh water to 1-inch above beans. Bring beans to a boil, then add vinegar and ham shank or bone. Reduce to simmer and cook for 2 hours.

Remove ham shank or bone from soup and set on plate to cool. In sauté pan on medium heat, cook onions until translucent. Add celery and green pepper, and cook until tender. Add garlic and cook a minute more. Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano and stir to combine. Stir vegetable mixture into cooked beans. Return heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook another hour with cover cracked open to allow steam to escape. Soup should reduce down and thicken as it cooks.

Remove as much meat as possible from the ham bone and shred. Add meat to soup and stir to combine. Serve over cooked brown rice. If desired, top with sour cream.