Conservation Cooking: 13 Bean Chili

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Marc BrazeauMarc Brazeau | Editor | Food and Farm Discussion Lab | @eatcookwrite


In our continuing Conservation Cooking recipe series, we going to keep going with the 13 Bean Theme. The idea is that if we’d like to see farmers grown more diverse rotations and crops that fix their own nitrogen, then we need to eat a wider variety of pulses. The easiest way to do that is to use 13 and 15 bean mixes. A really simple way to do that is to use 13 bean mix in your favorite chili recipe.

Soaking black beans with a 15 bean mix.

For your consideration

Since you probably already have a favorite chili recipe or can easily google one that suits the level of complexity and chores you are looking for, I’m not going to bother typing out a recipe here. Rather, let me make a few suggestions to nudge your chili in a more sustainable direction while making it more nutritious and delicious.

1. As we’ve said, use a bean mix rather than just black or kidney beans. For my last batch, I used half black beans, half 15 bean mix (with a sprinkle of moth beans I had in the cupboard after the first hour of simmering.

2. If you use ground beef in your chili, consider swapping in TVP (textured vegetable protein). It’s much cheaper and for things like chili or taco meat, pretty much indistinguishable in the final product. For stuff like that, there is really no reason to be spending five or ten times as much on ground beef as TVP. I add olive oil to add some fat and some beef broth or my smokey vegan broth to add a little more umami. You just steep the TVP in broth before adding it to the chili.

3. Consider adding a can of pumpkin or a box of frozen butternut squash to add some more nutrition. Canned pumpkin is easier to find, more flavorful and probably cheaper, but suit yourself if you prefer the butternut squash.

4. Start with a mire poix / sofrito of onions, peppers, dried and fresh chiles and garlic, but trying stirring in fine diced raw chiles at the end when you take the chili off the heat. My last batch I stirred in some diced Anaheim, poblano, and jalapenos at the end. It really freshens up the chili and brings those vegetal chile notes to the fore. For a little more subtlety, toss them in ten minutes before you finish cooking.

5. If you are going vegetarian, consider tossing in some roasted garlic. If you’re not going vegetarian, consider tossing in some roasted garlic.

Smokey Vegan Broth

• Vegetable or Mushroom Broth
• Oyster Sauce (vegan that is)
• Smoked Paprika

Combine to taste. Simmer for ten minutes before adding TVP.

Previous Conservation Cooking recipes:
13 Bean Soup
• 13 Bean Soup: (meatless)
• Birds and Bees Power Bars


[Please consider supporting Food and Farm Discussion Lab with an  ongoing contribution of $1, $2, $3, $5 or $10 a month on Patreon. Or make a one time donation at paypal.me/fafdl. ]

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