Bean chilli is good both for dinner parties and nights in.


Chilli is great. It tastes good, it can be dressed up or down, it works as lunch or dinner, on a weekday or for a party, summer, winter, spring and autumn. The basics are very simple: onion, beans, tomatoes, spices. Then you add whatever you want. It’s a one-pot dish (although you can make it a many-pot dish by serving it with any number of accompaniments like salsa, guacamole, rice or whatever) and makes several portions.

Serves: 4-6. Prep: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes.
Stores: In the fridge, 3-4 days. In the freezer, up to 3 months.


  • Chopping board
  • Knife
  • Tablespoon or tablespoon measure
  • Tin opener
  • Pot
  • Wooden spoon


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic (optional)
  • 1 small chilli
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder (optional)
  • 1 red pepper
  • 3 tins of beans (can be a mix, say one each of red kidney, cannelini, black eyed peas, or use all the same of your own favourite)
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • Juice of one lime (optional)
  • Handful of coriander (optional)
  • Salt and pepper


  1. Heat the oil.
  2. Chop the onion and add to the oil.
  3. Chop or crush the garlic and add to the onion.
  4. Cook until soft, avoiding browning.
  5. Lower the heat, add the spices and stir. Heating the spices with the onion and oil helps release their full flavour. Be careful not to burn them.
  6. Finely chop the pepper and add to the onions.
  7. Cook for a minute or two, to start softening the pepper.
  8. Add the tomatoes and a half-tin of water.
  9. Stir, cover and let cook for half an hour or so.
  10. Just before serving, add finely chopped coriander and a squeeze of lime (if using).
  11. Serve as is, or with heated tortillas, salsa, pico de gallo, guacamole, grated cheese, sour cream or none of these. It’s good as it is but with a bunch of extras you can turn it into a feast.


  • Make it taco Friday: Serve in taco shells, with shredded lettuce, grated cheese and guacamole.
  • Wrap in a tortilla, put in an oven-proof dish, sprinkle with grated cheese and cook in a medium oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese bubbles.
  • Add a couple of tablespoons to quesadillas.
  • When adding the pepper, add a finely chopped courgette, another pepper and a tin of sweetcorn for a veggier chilli.

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