Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

I remember the first time I had sweet potatoes and black beans together. Like it was yesterday. I fell in love. Well maybe that’s a little dramatic, but the memory is still pretty clear. At the since-closed Earwax Cafe in Chicago a few years ago, I ordered a sweet potato and black bean quesadilla one late afternoon with friends out on the patio. Something about the flavors and textures of those to ingredients just struck a chord.

Sometime last year, I started making this chili. I don’t remember where I got the inspiration for a chili version, but this is more or less the recipe I make most often. It’s easy to riff on the ingredients – go heavy on the black beans, but any other kind of bean will do. I’ve also added in butternut squash with the sweet potatoes, and you can add heat with chipotle peppers like I did below, or with red pepper flakes, hot sauce – anything you want. Get creative with the toppings, too. I love stirring creamy sour cream or plain yogurt into something warm, with cilantro sprinkled on top. Mmmmmm.

I also love this recipe because it includes inexpensive ingredients, many of which I already have on-hand — canned beans and tomatoes in the pantry, a few sweet potatoes hanging out in the fridge, and the toppings can vary. It’s also a healthy meal, loaded with veggies (and no meat, unless you go for the crumbled bacon!), and very little fat. It also gets better the longer it sits, so it’s a great leftover meal.

Hope you enjoy! If Earwax ever reopens I’ll have the share this recipe with them. 🙂


Sweet Potato & Black Beach Chili

Yield: 6 servings

Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 30 min or a few hours

Total Time: 50 min

Feel free to riff on the toppings! Crumbled bacon, green onions or tortilla chips would be nice additions. This dish gets better the longer it simmers - if you're serving to guests, try making the day before and reheating.


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 medium peppers, chopped (preferably poblanos but bell will work)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 bottle of beer (preferably an amber Mexican-style beer like dos equis)
3 medium sweet potatoes, chopped (skin left on)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (preferably fire-roasted)
2 cans black beans
2 cans other beans (Great Northern, red, pinto, even chickpeas will work)
2 chipotle chili peppers, diced (from the can)
1 tablespoon adobo sauce (from canned chipotles)
Vegetable/chicken broth, optional (for thinning, if necessary)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Sour cream or plain yogurt, optional
Cilantro, optional
Avocado, optional


1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, and cook until translucent, 2-3 minutes. Add chopped peppers and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Add cumin and oregano and cook for 1 minute more to toast. Add beer, and let reduce by half.

2. Add canned tomatoes and their juices, canned beans (do not drain), sweet potatoes, chipotle peppers and adobo sauce. Reduce heat to medium and let simmer at least 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Thin with broth, if desired.

3. Serve with sour cream, chopped cilantro and sliced avocado, if desired. Excellent with cornbread!


One Response to “Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili”

  1. 1

    Hadley — December 1, 2011 @ 8:12 am

    YUM!!! this sounds amazing and right up my alley. will have to try it, thanks AK!

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