Vegetarian Chili from Scratch

This Mexican chile pepper is called “Chilaca” when used fresh. In California the Poblano chile is often called Pasilla. Since most of these are bought and distributed from California this mislabeling often carries over into the supermarkets nationwide causing alot of confusion. This chile is very mild and is usually consumed in the dry form to make the famous Mexican ‘mole’ sauces.

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1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans
1 cup dried black beans
1/2 cup dried kidney beans
3 to 6 dried chile pods (any combo of ancho, guajillo, pasilla, cascabel, or de arbol)
1 small can chipotle pepper in adobo
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 medium carrot, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil
4 clvoes garlic, minced
juice of 1/2 lemon

For garnish:
green onion, sliced thin, or white onion, minced
cilantro leaves
grated cheddar or queso anejo
sour cream or queso fresco
lime wedges


Carefully sort through beans, removing any extraneous material. Rinse well. Put in the cooking pot, add 2 quarts of water, and soak overnight.

The next day, drain the beans, add water to cover by an inch or so, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until beans are very tender, which could take 1 to 2 hours, depending on the age of the beans. Add water occasionally, and stir to prevent any scorching. When nearly done, add 2 tsp. salt.

Meanwhile, toast the chiles in a hot, dry skillet until darkened on both sides. Allow to cool.

Break apart the chiles and dispose of the seeds and stems. Add the chiles, tomato sauce, half of the adobo sauce from the can of chipotle, and 1 tsp salt to a blender and puree until very smooth. This sauce should be pretty spicy, because it is going into a large pot of beans soon!

Saute the carrot, onion, and celery with 1 tsp of salt in the oil for about 10 minutes, until soft. Add teh garlic and saute for 1 more minute.

Drain most of the liquid from the beans, reserving a cup for later dilution if needed.

Add the chile sauce, vegetable, and lemon juice to the beans. Bring back to a simmer and let cook for 10 minutes or so, allowing the flavors to begin to meld.

Taste the chili for seasoning. If it needs more heat or smoke, add more of the adobo sauce. If it needs a lot more heat, you can puree the chipotle peppers and add those. Add salt as needed. If the chili is too thick, dilute with some of the reserved bean cooking liquid. Serve chili with your choice of garnish.

Makes about 10 cups.