Chili with shredded cheese and chips.

Chili with shredded cheese and chips.

My day job as an Urban Planner involves frequent nights attending Planning and Zoning Board Hearings. Since hubby often gets home just as I’m heading out (which means I eat early and he eats late), I need to make meals on those nights that can be easily kept warm or served at room temperature. Hence, we eat a lot of crock pot stews, especially in cold weather or on dreary days like today.

Tonight was one of the nights I had scheduled to work, so I prepared a chili dinner early in the day in the crock pot. My hearing was later cancelled, so I was able to enjoy not only a bonus bike ride with Thing 1, but also my favorite chili with my full family.

Four Bean Crock Pot Chili
makes 6 servings

  • 1/2 cup each dried black, pinto, kidney, and garbanzo beans
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 1-2 tbs chili powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cocoa powder
  1. Soak bean in water overnight, or prepare that morning by covering with a few inches of water, bringing to a boil, removing from heat, covering, and letting sit for at least an hour. Drain beans and add to crock pot.
  2. Add peppers, onions, tomatoes, chili, cumin, coriander, and salt to crock pot. Add enough water to just barely cover. You may also stir in the tomato paste at this time, though I tend to add it a few hours later.
  3. Put the crock pot on high and cook for about 6 hours (different crock pots have different personalities, so you may need to adjust the time for your machine’s temperament. you can also cook it on low for a much longer time, at least 8 hours)
  4. About 15 minutes before serving, turn crock pot to warm and stir in cocoa powder. Do not skip this step-it adds depth to the flavor and mellows the sharpness of all that tomato.
  5. Serve with corn bread or chips, shredded cheese (dairy or soy), and sour cream, if you like. You could also top this with sliced scallions and/or fresh cilantro. And hot sauce-I always add hot sauce, since the chili itself has to be mild for the kiddies.
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