Food and Drink

Need a meatless meal for a cold day? Try this 3-bean chili with sweet potato.

Everyone seems to have a favorite chili recipe, especially during these colder months. If I’m feeding carnivores, I love to slow-cook a huge pot of red chili con carne. But for leaner times, a pantry filled with beans and spices is always welcome. Use your favorites, such as black, navy and garbanzo. Chicken broth or vegetable broth and tomato add depth of flavor. I always have tubes of tomato paste — the double- or triple-concentrated variety found in the pasta section of most grocery stores. Otherwise, add in one 14.5-ounce can of tomatoes and its juice when you add in the canned beans. If desired, toss in other favorite vegetables such as zucchini, corn and fennel bulb or go meat-light with ground turkey or chicken. Fresh orange (or lime) juice adds brightness. Serve as is or with steamed rice or warmed tortillas. — Kim Sunée

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 large leek (or medium onion), sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)

1 small carrot, sliced (3/4 cup)

2 jalapenos, seeded, if desired, and diced

1 large sweet potato, diced (3 to 4 cups)


3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced

2 to 3 tablespoons ground chili powder, preferably New Mexico red chili powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon or ground turmeric

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 (15-ounce) can black beans

1 (15-ounce) can cannellini or navy beans

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans

6 cups chicken stock, vegetable broth or water

Juice of 1 lime or zest and juice of 1 small orange

3 green onions, chopped

For serving: sour cream; cilantro; radishes; tortillas or tortilla chips

• Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add tomato paste, if using, and leeks. (If using canned tomatoes, add later with the beans.) Cook, stirring paste and leeks almost constantly for about 2 minutes. Add carrot, jalapeño and sweet potato. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, chili powder, 2 teaspoons salt and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, canned beans and stock/broth. Reduce heat to medium to medium-low and let cook, stirring occasionally, 30 to 40 minutes. After about 25 minutes, taste and adjust seasoning, as desired. About 10 minutes before serving, squeeze in fresh lime or orange juice and stir in green onions. Serve hot with optional toppings and warmed tortillas or tortilla chips.

Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit