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3 Bean and Quinoa Vegetarian Chili

While the prep time and list of ingredients might be intimidating, this is a sit back, relax, and wait kind of meal. Dried ancho and New Mexico chilies, chilies in adobo sauce, and vegetable stock provide layers of rich flavor while the beans and quinoa soak it all up and fill you up. Meat lovers and vegetarians alike will devour it.
Servings 10
Prep Time 6 hrs 29 mins
Cook Time 2 hrs 31 mins
Total Time 8 hrs 59 mins


Bean Preparation

  • 1 cup dry kidney beans or 2 (15 ounce) cans
  • 1/2 cup dry pinto beans or 1 (15 ounce) can
  • 1/2 cup dry garbanzo beans or 1 (15 ounce) can
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 an onion roughly chopped
  • 1 carrot roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves whole garlic bruised
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 6 cups water or vegetable stock I actually used an equal mix of vegetable stock and water


  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 whole chilies in adobo sauce reserve the sauce
  • 4 dried ancho or pasilla chilies stems and seeds removed (I used pasilla)
  • 3 dried New Mexico (or Costeno, Choricero) chilies stems and seeds removed
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes packed in juice
  • Soaked and cooked beans + reserved bean cooking liquid
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion diced
  • 5 cloves garlic minced
  • 1.5 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon marmite
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen petite sweet corn
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon
  • Fine sea salt to taste
  • 12 ounces porter or stout this is optional (see Notes)


Bean Preparation

  • Soak the beans overnight (or 6 to 8 hours) in a large bowl with water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and leave on the counter or in the fridge. The next day, drain the beans from their soaking water and gently rinse them.
  • Transfer the beans to a Dutch oven. Wrap and tie the bay leaf, onion, carrot, and garlic in a thin layer of cheesecloth (I didn't do this and spent time picking out everything from the beans). Add salt.
  • Cover the beans with 6 cups of water or vegetable stock. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook on a very gentle simmer (you should hardly see the beans moving) for 1 hour.
  • Skim off and discard any foam and add water if needed. Transfer everything to a large bowl (you are going to be using the Dutch oven soon again) and set aside.


  • Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Set aside.
  • Place the dried chilies on a microwave safe plate and microwave in 15 second intervals until the chilies are pliable, about 30 seconds total. Remove the stems and seeds and transfer to a high speed blender. Add 4 cups of vegetable stock and 2 whole chipotle chilies along with 2 tablespoons of the sauce from the can. Blend, slowly increasing to the highest speed. Blend until smooth-about 1 minute.
  • Pour the whole tomatoes and the juices into a bowl. Use your fingers to break up the tomatoes and combine with 1 cup of the reserved bean cooking liquid and set aside.
  • Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Once hot, add the onions and cook for 4 minutes, until soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic, cumin, cocoa, and oregano. Stir constantly for about 30 seconds. *If desired, add 12 ounces of a porter or stout here and stir for 30 seconds more (see notes).
  • Add the pureed chilies, soy sauce, and marmite, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.
  • Add the tomatoes, tomato juice, and reserved bean cooking liquid mixture and stir to combine. Add the quinoa and beans and stir to combine. If the beans aren't covered, then add more of the reserved bean cooking liquid (I actually went ahead and added all of it anyway because it had such good flavor).
  • Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cook at a small simmer for 1 hour with the lid partially on, stirring occasionally. Add more liquid if the chili becomes too thick or if it starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Remove lid and add one package of frozen corn and mix well. Replace the lid and cook for another 30 minutes. Add the bourbon and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt.


*Recipe adapted from Serious Eats.
If using canned beans, use 2-15 ounce cans kidney, 1-15 ounce can of pinto, and 1-15 ounce can of garbanzo. Make sure you save all the liquid from the cans and add vegetable stock to equal 4 cups. This serves as a substitute for the "reserved bean cooking liquid."
If you like your chile really hot, add one or two hot dried chilies like Cascabels, Pequin, or Arbol.
This is VERY IMPORTANT. To cut the bitterness in the chili, caused by how the chilies are smoked and dried, you MUST add salt. It will seem like you are adding too much but just keep adding in small portions until the bitterness is reduced and the chili tastes perfect to you. I had to add about 1.5 teaspoons to get the taste right.
*2017 Notes: I recently added a porter to this chili and it was amazing. Any porter or stout with chocolate and coffee notes will work wonderfully.
Author: Megan Wells
Course: Soups