Kitchen Staples: Chili Beans

Every cook, kitchen, and diner has them: standbys, staples, dishes they fall back and rely on. While not, perhaps, the favorite food at the dinner table, these meals are the hearty backbone of day-to-day life. The everyday goodness that gets you through the week.

I aim to share my everyday staples with you here from time to time, to help you add to your meal arsenal. Because when the going gets boring – and believe me, I often find dinner a bit boring – the tough get cooking.

The first recipe in my everyday meal arsenal is for Chili Beans. My dinner companion was the one to first share with me the delights of chili beans (for instance, depending on how much you cook up, this may be the dinner that never ends!), and ever since we have made this versatile dish a staple in our kitchen.

You can serve it over rice. You can mix in shredded chicken or ground beef. You can serve with cheese, scallions and avocado, as I did with the leftovers you see here.

You can do almost anything with this recipe, and guaranteed, it will be comforting and tasty. You can also crank up the spice, or dial it down to mild, if you don’t wish to bask in a glorious spiced heat.

Chili Beans

Enough for dinner and leftovers for 2. If using canned beans, buy however much you would like to make. This recipe is the definition of versatile!

You will need:

2+ cups dried beans, soaked overnight
Chili powder
Ground cumin, if desired
Curry powder, if desired
Pepper & salt to taste

Tasty additions:

4 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, diced
A handful of mushrooms, sliced
2 tomatoes, diced
1+ c. shredded chicken or
1+ c. ground beef
Rice, for serving

Tasty toppings:

Chopped scallions
Shredded cheese
Sliced avocado


After soaking beans overnight, place into a saucepan and cover with plenty of water. Add spices as desired: it will take at least 1 tablespoon of chili powder to flavor a large pan of beans. I use at least 1 tablespoon of each spice (choosing either cumin or curry powder in addition to the chili powder, or perhaps lesser amounts of both), and then add small amounts of salt and pepper until the flavor is well-balanced. Bring beans to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low and cook for up to several hours until soft and eatable.

In the last 30 – 45 minutes of cooking, add in any extras, such as onion and carrots. If adding ground beef, add partially cooked, or allow extra time for it to cook fully.

Correct the seasoning if necessary.

Serve with rice, if desired. Top with a motley assortment of scallions and/or cheese and/or avocado. Shape the recipe to fit your interests, and enjoy.