One-Pot Wonders

Seriously Savory 3-Bean Chili

January  9, 2023
3 Ratings
Photo by Melina Hammer
  • Prep time 12 hours
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

When cold weather hits, one of my go-tos is to pull out the slow cooker and make chili and stew. There is something about the hours ticking by, the house filling with an irresistible aroma, and disparate elements melding into hearty, seductive sustenance. Save for a couple minor prep steps, this 3-bean chili cooks almost entirely passively, freeing you to other cold weather activities and fantasies of steaming bowls-to-come. This chili is vegan and it is worthy of serving to the greatest chili fans. With foundation-building flavors like dried porcini, gochujang, and a variety of beans to establish meaty, creamy, and deep notes - never mind the garnishes, which ought to be piled generously on top as you gather around the table - time helps make this chili a thing of beauty, melding all the flavors. I am a huge proponent of heirloom beans, partly due to their reliably plump and extra creamy - or meaty - texture, and always for their complex, rich flavors. If you cannot find these specific beans in your grocery store, order them online. —Melina Hammer

What You'll Need
  • Chili
  • 8 medium shallots, peeled, root ends trimmed, any larger ones cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 head garlic, cloves separated & root ends trimmed, papery sheaths left on
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 cups Scarlet Runner beans
  • 1 1/2 cups Rio Zape beans
  • 1 1/2 cups Buckeye beans
  • 2 cups canned tomatoes, whole peeled
  • 2 tablespoons gochujang
  • 1 tablespoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1 dried chile, such as ancho or chile de árbol
  • 4 cups mushroom (or vegetable) broth
  • Toppings
  • Lime wedges
  • Sour cream (or use vegan sour cream)
  • Fresh cilantro sprigs
  • Chopped dill pickles
  • Crispy shallots or onions
  • Fresno or Serrano chile, de-stemmed and thinly sliced
  • Aleppo chile flakes
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. On a sheet pan, toss shallots and garlic in olive oil and season with kosher salt. Arrange shallots around the periphery of the sheet pan and garlic clustered at the center. Roast for 15 minutes, or until softened and golden on the bottom. Turn all the alliums over and roast 8 to 10 more minutes, until lightly golden on the other side and the garlic cloves are fork tender. Remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack. Squeeze the roasted garlic from their papery sheaths once they are cool enough to handle.
  2. Meanwhile, steep the dried mushrooms in the hot water for 15 minutes. Using a paper towel, squeeze any excess liquid from them, then coarsely chop them and add them back to the reserved soaking liquid.
  3. Add the beans into the slow cooker. Use kitchen shears to coarsely chop the canned tomatoes as you empty them into the pot. Add the chopped porcini and liquid, plus the garlic and shallots. Add in the gochujang, all the spices, and the kosher salt. Pour mushroom stock to cover, adding additional water as needed to submerge the mixture. Briefly stir to combine, add the dried chile and cover. Turn the slow cooker to high. After an hour, turn the dial to low, adding more water to cover as needed. Cook on low overnight (or 12 hours), checking before going to bed to add more water to submerge the mixture as needed.
  4. The next day, turn the cooker off and remove the dried chile. Stir to incorporate the mixture and taste, then season with kosher salt to taste. Serve into bowls. Squeeze a wedge of lime, add a dollop of sour cream, a handful of cilantro leaves, a cluster of chopped pickles, and scatter crispy shallots as well as the sliced fresh chiles and Aleppo chile flakes over the top. Any leftovers can be frozen for up to 4 months, or transferred to sealed containers and refrigerated for up to 1 week. Add a little water or stock when reheating the chili, as the beans will have soaked up their liquid.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Smaug
  • Melina Hammer
    Melina Hammer
  • brenda Koessl
    brenda Koessl
Melina is the author of 'A Year at Catbird Cottage' with Ten Speed Press. She grows an heirloom and pollinator garden and forages wild foods at her namesake Hudson Valley getaway, Catbird Cottage. Melina loves serving curated menus for guests from near and far seeking community amidst the hummingbirds, grosbeaks, finches, and the robust flavors of the seasons.

6 Reviews

brenda K. February 6, 2023
I live in a very rural part of the country. There are literally 5 ingredients in this recipe unavailable to me.
Smaug February 6, 2023
There are some very strange ingredients, but you can get most of them from Amazon and the beans from Rancho Gordo. It'll cost you, though, and you probably need to buy way more than you want- I wouldn't bother, to tell you the truth.
Melina H. February 6, 2023
I purchase the beans online at Rancho Gordo. Every single type is wonderful and worth trying. Have you thought to try looking online for the other ingredients? Often when I've had trouble finding ingredients, I've made an adventure of it - whether finding victory about what place actually *does* carry different things (hooray), or keeping a small stash, and incorporating those ingredients in new ways in my own repertoire. I hope that helps.
Smaug February 4, 2023
Well, at least it has some hint of chiles as a flavor ingredient; trying to establish some sort of criteria for what is or isn't a chili seems like a lost cause at this point. I will say that Ancho chilis and chiles d'arbol are about as far apart as dried chiles can get; anchos (dried poblanos) are large, fleshy peppers with a deep, earthy flavor and variable, but usually minimal, heat and a touch of sweetness. Chilis d'arbol are small, papery peppers that come off the plant already nearly dried, which provide mostly heeat.
Melina H. February 6, 2023
If you look through my recipes you may see that I use the idea of a dish and create a new or different riff which doesn't necessarily follow tradition, but also turns out to be compelling. And tbh, pretty much always delicious. Some generosity towards that end is appreciated.
Smaug February 7, 2023
I like to muck a in the kitchen too, and with current insanely inflated food prices it's always tempting to combine what I have rather than buy stuff. I have no particular objection to this dish other than the name- certain dishes- chili, pizza, key lime pie etc. have been so altered as to have no recognizable definition. I maintain that to be chili the flavor should be based on chilis. The flavors of Mexican/Southwestern breeds of capsicum annuum are very distinctive and poorly represented in this dish.