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bowl of vegan heirloom-bean chili with yogurt, lemon and cilantro

Vegan Heirloom-Bean Chili

  • Author: Michal Martinek
  • Prep Time: 8 hours for soaking the breans
  • Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Yield: serves 6
  • Cuisine: American


One-pot comfort food! This high-protein vegan chili is made with heirloom-beans, tomatoes, onion and vibrant spices.


  • 2 cups mixed, dry heirloom beans (note 1) or 6 cups mixed, cooked heirloom beans
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 4 cups diced, peeled yellow onion (about 3 medium onions)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 6 garlic cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 28-ounce can (795 g) chopped tomatoes with their juices
  • 1 cup of water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped (La Costeña or Èmbasa brands)
  • Toppings:
  • Lime or lemon
  • Yogurt (dairy or non-dairy)
  • Black pepper, freshly ground
  • Cilantro or parsley (chopped)


  1. Soak the beans (if you’re starting with already cooked beans, skip to step 4). Place the beans in a medium bowl or container, add cold water (it should come 3” above the beans), cover, and let soak on a kitchen counter for minimum 8 hours or overnight.
  2. Drain the beans, add them to a stock pot, cover with cold water (it should come 4” above the beans), and bring to a boil over high heat.
  3. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer, partially covered until tender, about 40–45 minutes (do a taste test with the biggest bean–if it’s done, the rest is done too). Drain the beans and set aside.
  4. Make the chili—you can start about 15 minutes before the beans are done.
  5. Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the cumin, oregano, ancho chili, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally for 2 minutes.
  7. Add the tomatoes with their juice, and water or stock. Stir in the cocoa and chipotle pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  8. Mix in the cooked beans, reduce the heat to low, and cover with a lid. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes. Taste and add salt to taste if needed.
  9. Ladle the chili into individual bowls. Squeeze some lime or lemon over the top, top with yogurt, and sprinkle with black pepper, and cilantro or parsley.
  10. The chili tastes better the next day, reheated, after it had time to set and deepen the flavor. It will keep for up to 4 days in the refrigerator.


  1. Heirloom beans: I used a mixture of Midnight Black, Cranberry and Cassoullet beans from Rancho Gordo in Napa, California, but feel free to use yourfavorite heirloom beans.
  2. Freeze: You can store the chili in a tightly covered container and freeze for up to 2 months. Defrost in the fridge and reheat.