Jon’s 5-bean chilli

I never made a veg chilli and didn’t have a recipe, but I made this one up as I went along one night and it worked so well I made it again and again and again…


Olive oil – a good glug
4 x garlic cloves
2 x medium red onions
2 x stalks of celery

Either fresh red chillis or dried chilli flakes: I use one decent tea spoon of dried chilli flakes to replace 1 whole chilli.  1 = stew 2 = very mild 3 = interesting 4 = medium 4+= hot
Cumin – 1 heaped teaspoon
Paprika – about 3 teaspoons

1 x tube tomato puree
3 x cans toms (I use 2 cans chopped 1 can plum: adds a bit if texture)
3 x veg stock cubes
2 x bay leaves

1 x can kidney beans
1 x can borlotti beans
1 x can pinto beans
1 x can haricot beans
1 x can canellini beans

Water – half a pint ish

1 x square of dark chocolate

1 x big stock pot!

Creme Fraiche, sour cream or yoghurt


1. Finely chop garlic and onion, and fresh chillis (de-seeded!) if you’re using them
2. Cut the celery in half lengthways, then chop finely
3. Put  a healthy swig of oil in the pan and get the fire going, medium, under it
4. Start to soften the garlic, onion and celery.  Don’t colour it if you can avoid it, just get it softening – the longer and slower the better (10-15mins) but if you’re in a rush just fry it off
5. After the veg has cooked for a few minutes add the paprika, chilli, and cumin, give it a good old stir
6. When the veg is nearly done, add the whole tube of tomato puree and mix it in and it makes a really nice spicy paste
7. Whack in the chopped toms, and the plum toms – don’t smash the whole ones up yet, let them cook whole
8. Crumble in the stock cubes, mix
9. While that starts heating up, drain all your beans, and add them to the pot
10. Add some water – depends on how thick your sauce is and how long you can wait to eat- you want to loosen it up, and then we’re going to cook it down so it’s really thick again
11. Add bay leaves and a pinch of salt
12. Bring to boil
12. Put on the lowest heat you have available, chuck a lid on it, and leave it to simmer
13. Check every 5 minutes or so so it doesn’t stick, give it a bit of a stir.  Add a little more water if needed depending on cooking time.
14 Leave for as long as you can wait!  I left it for an hour first time, I leave it longer when I can
15. When your nearly done chuck on some rice, and check the seasoning – if it’s not hot enough you can always add a little extra chilli especially if you use the dried ones
16. Add a square of good plain chocolate towards the end, and give one final check for the seasoning
17. Serve with rice and a huge dollop of creme fraiche/sour cream/yoghurt

I’d say this makes enough for about 6 – 8 people (pad it out with bread and salad if needed) including enough for seconds at each serving.
It’s even better the day after you make it and keeps for a good few days in the fridge and I reckon a month or so in the freezer (I freeze left over chilli con carne and it’s magic!).
If you can’t handle it with rice the second night, you can make enchiladas out of it: warm some wraps, stick some of the chilli (heated up first) in the middle and roll them up
Chuck in a baking dish, pour some more chilli over the top and add loads of cheese, then bake for 10-15 minutes.

Cheap as Chips
The beans and tomatoes cost about 40 – 80p a can depending on where you get them, so total cost is about £4 assuming you have the other ingredients in your cupboard.
Co-op does a really nice range of beans, they’re organic ones and cost about 60p.  You can also use dried ones but have to soak them , and could replace any of the beans with a  different type like butter beans  – but keep a mix going I reckon is best.

By Jon Hickman

Hi, I'm Jon. I teach and research digital culture, social media and new media practice at Birmingham City University. Find out more about me with this lovely CV: Find out about my work at the Birmingham Centre for Media & Cultural Research: