Pinto bean and sweet potato chili (4-6 servings)

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I grew up assuming that sweet potatoes were an autumnal food, but apparently, their peak season is the springtime, at least in North Carolina. This was a happy surprise to me, especially because in the fall, so much emphasis is put on pumpkins that I forget to cook with sweet potatoes anyway.

I'm always looking for new chili recipes, and this one from Epicurious sounded unique and interesting enough that I knew I had to try it. It makes a modest amount of chili, but between the beans and sweet potatoes, it's so filling that you'll get more servings than appearance suggests!

You will need:

  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-4 tsp chili powder, depending on preference
  • 2 cups vegetable broth (preferably low-sodium)
  • 1 lb sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 15-oz cans Mexican-style diced tomatoes (I used a type with lime, cilantro, and green chiles)
  • 2 15-oz cans pinto or black beans (I used one of each)
  • 6 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (I used a lot less since my tomatoes included cilantro and I'm not the world's biggest cilantro fan)
  • zest from one medium orange

Steps:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until it's golden brown (this always takes way longer than the recipe says; I needed almost 10 minutes). Add the chili powder and stir one minute.
  2. Add in the broth and sweet potato and cover the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the potato is almost tender (about 10 min).
  3. Add in tomatoes (undrained) and beans. Simmer, uncovered, until the chili thickens and the potato is very tender (another 10 min). Mix in cilantro and orange zest. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

I doubled the original recipe, so some of my measurements are slightly different from the Epicurious version. The original called for 10 ounces of sweet potatoes, which seemed like a weird amount. I bought as close to 20 ounces and I could get, but I'd use less next time, hence cutting the recipe back to only 16 ounces.

I was skeptical about the orange zest, fearing it would make the chili too sweet, but it really blends in nicely. Actually, all the flavors work well together here. The beans absorb the herbs and spices, as do the potatoes, which come out wonderfully tender but still hold their shape. As I said before, this chili is very filling, and depending on what type of tomatoes you use and how much chili powder you add, it can be mildly spicy to pretty darn spicy. It's a flexible recipe that I'll definitely turn to again in the future.