Foodstuff: Simple three-bean chili recipe for your next snow day |

Foodstuff: Simple three-bean chili recipe for your next snow day

A classic winter warmer, heavy on the toppings, please

Katherine Roberts
Homemade chili warms the soul on cold snowy days.
Photo Katherine Roberts

When the temperatures dip and the gray days seem never-ending, all I want to do is eat comfort food. Pastas (duh), soups, stews, and other cozy, winter warmer dishes are tough on my waistline but gentle on my soul (Lay off me, I’m starving).

Over the years, I’ve played around with a bunch of different chili recipes, and, after picking up the best bits from several successful attempts, I think I’ve hit on a real winner and the perfect early February treat. Traditionalists and Texans may take umbrage with my method, but this three-bean version is sure to please, and it also tastes great after a long, chilly (hardy, har har) day playing in the snow.

Simple Chili Recipe:


  • 1 lb. extra lean ground beef
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about one medium sized onion)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 0z. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1t ground cumin*
  • 1/4t salt
  • 1/4t pepper
  • 1 15-16 oz. can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained**

Cooking instructions:

  1. Cook beef, onion and garlic in a heavy-bottomed pot or pan.
  2. Stir in remaining ingredients except beans.
  3. Stir in remaining ingredients except beans.
  4. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low.
  5. Cover and simmer on hour, stirring occasionally.
  6. Stur in beans. Heat to boiling, reduce heat to low. Simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired thickness.



*I add a few other spices and things to this to jazz it up, but they are optional according to your taste buds. They are: 1T chipotle chili powder, 1t ground coriander, 1t dried oregano, 1T honey, and a healthy dash of cinnamon.

**I also add one can of black beans and one can of pinto beans, which are also drained and rinsed.

In my (admittedly decadent) view, no decent chili would be complete without a plethora of toppings added to the mix. This is a fun way to host a few people, as the chili is very easy and can be prepared in advance. As it’s simmering away on the stove, you can set up a toppings bar, so everyone can add what they like. I top mine very specifically in a particular order. Extra sharp cheddar cheese (So it melts on to the hot chili), lightly crushed tortilla chips, guacamole, sour cream, and cilantro. I always grate the cheddar cheese by hand (It melts better than the pre-shredded stuff), and doctor store-bought guacamole by adding pico de gallo (from the produce section), lime juice, and cilantro.

You can also add salsa, hot sauce, or other crunchy, yummy things that you like to your toppings bar. Hot tip: My friend Annabelle turned me on to cheddar-flavored Goldfish crackers, which are my niece’s new favorite to throw in the bowl! I also frequently make an easy box of Jiffy cornbread to be served on the side, in mini-muffin tins with shredded cheddar and finely chopped scallions added to the mix.

This recipe has a bit of a kick (especially if you add the optional spices), so cooling it all off with some of these edible accessories is a must. Stay warm out there!

The finished product, with lots of toppings.
Courtesy Katherine Roberts

Katherine Roberts is a midvalley-based writer and marketing professional who is still pretty terrible at skiing but cooks a mean variety of après goodies. She can be reached via her marketing and communications firm, Carington  Creative, at

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