Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans and Chocolate

In upstate New York, there’s a small town with a Big Red university and a little vegetarian restaurant called Moosewood. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s a cozy space that feels like the extension of grandma’s kitchen. It was there, that I discovered black bean chili with chocolate. Yes, you read that correctly. Chocolate. In chili.

Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans and Chocolate | An easy, hearty vegetarian sweet potato chili with black beans and chocolate. Make ahead for weeknight dinners and let the flavors meld together. | seasonedvegetable.com

Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili with Chocolate

This sweet potato chili with black beans and chocolate is my take on their hearty bean chili. I started making it for all those graduate students I was living with (more on that here). It was the perfect weeknight dinner for a large group. Especially at the beginning of February with 8 inches of snow on the ground and wind chill of -15°F. Plus, this recipe easily doubles. And leftovers are even better the next day, when the flavors have melded together.

The addition of sweet potatoes to the original recipe gives this chili a bit more heft for a complete meal. The spices are warm and tingly, with just a bit of heat from the cayenne pepper. With the addition of the chocolate, the sauce thickens and becomes a bit more like a Mexican mole sauce.

One of my favorite things about this sweet potato chili, and all bean chili really, is the many options for toppings! Stringy cheese lovers may opt for cheddar or mozzarella but I usually go for queso fresco or cotija. Soft, ripe avocados add a great complementary flavor and texture to the chili while scallions and cilantro bring a bright freshness.

If you’re looking for extra smokiness, try using roasted tomatoes. If you’re looking to serve this chili with something bready to sop up the sauce, I recommend these cheddar jalapeno biscuits or jalapeno cornbread from Simply Recipes. 

★ Did you make this recipe? Leave a rating below and tag @seasonedvegetable on Instagram!

Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans and Chocolate | An easy, hearty vegetarian sweet potato chili with black beans and chocolate. Make ahead for weeknight dinners and let the flavors meld together. | seasonedvegetable.com

Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans and Chocolate

An easy, hearty vegetarian sweet potato chili with black beans and chocolate. Make ahead for weeknight dinners and let the flavors meld together.

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, diced into 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed (about 3 cups)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes (about 2 cups)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • Suggested toppings: chopped scallions, avocado, cilantro

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, warm olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, salt, pepper, and garlic and saute until onions are translucent and fragrant, about 5 to 10 minutes.

  2. Reduce heat to low. Add in sweet potatoes, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, nutmeg, and coriander. Stir well to keep the spices from burning. 

  3. Add black beans, crushed tomatoes and broth. Stir to combine, making sure there is enough liquid covering all the ingredients. If not, add a bit of broth to just cover. Bring the chili to a simmer. Cover and cook 25 to 35 minutes, until sweet potatoes are tender.

  4. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate until well combined.

  5. Serve with desired toppings.

Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates

Seasoned Secret

Make this in the slow cooker! (This busy graduate student did it all the time.) Add all ingredients except chocolate and toppings and reduce to 1 cup of vegetable broth. Cook on high for 4 hours. Stir in chocolate when sweet potatoes are cooked through. Serve with toppings.

Vegan

Be sure the semisweet chocolate chips are dairy free or swap them for your favorite carob chips or vegan dark chocolate bar, broken into small pieces. Garnish with your favorite vegan chili toppings such as scallions, avocado, lime, or nutritional yeast. Your favorite vegan crumbles are also a great addition.

Omnivore

Add 1/4 to 1/2 pound of ground meat of your choice, cooking it with the onion if you wish.

Check the Fridge

Sometimes I'll stir in greens that may be just past their prime (you know, that salad mix that's been open for a week in the back of the fridge). For example, spinach, chopped kale, and chard are all great options to add at the end. Cabbage can be added with the sweet potatoes but I stay away from bitter greens like arugula or radicchio.

From Scratch

Use a homemade chicken or vegetable stock instead of store bought. Or make your own vegetable bouillon. You can make your own beans on the stovetop or in a slow cooker instead of using canned beans.

Sweet Potato Chili with Black Beans and Chocolate | An easy, hearty vegetarian sweet potato chili with black beans and chocolate. Make ahead for weeknight dinners and let the flavors meld together. | seasonedvegetable.com

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