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I’m going to go on for a minute about how good and versatile this chili recipe is. Pop open a few cans, put a pot on, and you’ve got the basis for several cheap, healthy, flavorful meals. Eat a bowl with tortillas, tortilla chips, quinoa, or cornbread. Use as a ridiculously tasty taco or burrito filling (it beats any restaurant version we’ve tried). Spoon some over a baked potato for an easy dinner. Add some corn kernels or roasted red peppers for a twist. You can even make and freeze a batch to use later.

You’ll need:

1 tbsp chipotle chilies in adobo sauce, blended (see below)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large red or yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced or crushed
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 large can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
3 cans (14-15 oz) pinto beans, black beans, white beans or kidney beans, drained and rinsed (I use a combination of black and pinto)
2 tsp red wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1/2 of a beer – brown ale or lager (optional, but I think it adds a nice, yeasty flavor)
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro


Canned chipotle chilis are a fantastic secret ingredient, and you can find them in most grocery stores nowadays. Blend and chuck in the freezer, then add spoonfuls to anything you want to infuse with a spicy, slow-cooked smoky flavor. Our friend Andrew added some to Southwest style roasted potatoes with onions and peppers and stole the show at a brunch party.

What to do:

In a large pot, heat oil and add onions. Cook until softened, then add garlic and cumin and stir for a couple of minutes.

Add tomatoes and beans. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, adding a bit of water if necessary.

Bubbling chili. Use a big pot or it will splatter like mine did.

Add chipotle and beer, if using. Simmer for another 15 minutes, until flavors combine and desired consistency is achieved.

Stir in cilantro, vinegar, and salt to taste. You can also add more chipotle to kick up the spice.

Cheese not shown

Serve with grated cheese, sour cream, pico de gallo, and chopped cilantro.

Makes 6 bowls of chili; about 12 servings if using as a filling or topping.