Real Meal #6: Black Bean + Sweet Potato Chili

black bean + sweet potato chili

Hi everyone. It’s Spring Break here in Burlington. We have to work, but the students are away, so it’s been a quiet week. I made it into the pottery studio once this week (score!) and have been doing more cooking at night (although tonight I went out for tacos and margaritas to El Cortijo….AGAIN).

Everything I’ve made has had some sort of root vegetable element, to varying degrees of success. Carrot waffles. Meh. Egg rolls with lots of cabbage and carrots. Pretty good! Sweet potato pizza dough. Yum. Sweet potato smoothies. Eh, that one was weird.

This black bean and sweet potato chili was a winner though. After making the Homesick Texan’s Austen-style basic black beans, I’m a firm believer that any good Mexican black bean recipe needs adobo chilies, cilantro, and lime.


This recipe called for all of the above.

beans + cilantro

Plus beer. In this case, it was one bottle of Trout River for the chili and one for the cook.

trout river

If you are using canned black beans, this chili cooks up in no time.

I took the longer route and used dried black beans because that’s what I had at home. I presoaked them the night before: sorted and rinsed the beans, added them to a large pot, filled with cold water and covered beans by about 3 inches to sit overnight. The next day, I just drained them well in a colander.

I’m no dried bean expert – truly, I’ve cooked with them twice! – but I read that adding salt or acidic food can toughen dried beans when cooking, so wait until closer to the end of cooking to add them. Also, it’s best to add a 2-inch piece of dried kombu (a Japanese sea vegetable) or epazote to aid in digestion.

black bean + sweet potato chili

I’ve been in the habit of topping my bowl with cheesy nacho chips (tortilla chips covered with Monterey jack cheese and baked until melted, doused with a bit of hot sauce), plus avocado and cilantro.


I think I need to move back out west and find another job on a ranch. This chili might attract my very own Marlboro Man, a la The Pioneer Woman.

One can dream.

black bean + sweet potato chili

Black Bean + Sweet Potato Chili

Adapted from Serious Eat’s Eat For Eight Bucks: Black Bean + Sweet Potato Chili


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • One 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups water (or stock)
  • Three 15-ounce cans black bean, rinsed and drained, OR 1 1/2 cups dried beans (measured before soaking overnight)
  • 2 chipotle chile peppers in adobo sauce, minced
  • 1 bottle dark beer
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt (less if using stock instead of water)
  • Juice of one lime
  • sour cream (for topping)
  • cilantro (for topping)
  • tortilla chips (for topping)
  • Monterey Jack cheese (for topping)


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot, cooking and stirring until tender. Add the garlic, cooking for about a minute, or until fragrant. Add the cumin and chili powder, stirring to incorporate into the vegetables.
  2. Next, add the tomatoes, water, black beans, chipotle chilies, beer, and cilantro. Turn heat to high and simmer for ten minutes. (Depending on how you soaked your dry beans, they may need to cook for around two hours to soften and need additional water. I added a piece of kombu when cooking my beans, and added the tomatoes with the sweet potatoes.)
  3. Add the sweet potatoes and salt, cooking just until sweet potatoes are tender, about twenty minutes. Lastly, add the juice of one lime. Stir, serve with whatever toppings you so desire. I like cheesy nachos on mine!

*Per usual, I also froze half of the soup in individual Ziploc baggies for easy meals on busy days. My freezer is about to pop!

About Sarah

Always thinking about my next meal.
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3 Responses to Real Meal #6: Black Bean + Sweet Potato Chili

  1. Di says:

    Hi there! I finally made this and it was yummy! However, it came out more like a stew than a chili. Which is fine. I just wanted to ask if the can of tomatoes was supposed to be drained? You specified that the beans needed to be drained and rinsed but there was no mention on if the same needed to be done for the tomatoes. Anyway, just thought I’d ask for future batches.

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Di! I didn’t drain the can of tomatoes. I think you could also add more liquid – water or stock – if you’d like!

  2. Pingback: Real Meal #7: quick yakisoba + new pottery. « DAILY NIBBLES

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