How To Make Rich, Intense Flavored Chili

OH MY! Is it ever cold! And fast.  I was just thinking how lucky we are that is terrified to hold trick or treat not on the actual night of Halloween, because they fear there would be too much too handle, and too many parties on the streets — becuase we had our trick or treat night last night — when it was a balmy 46 degrees.

So now, instantly, it’s time for chili.  Whether you’re making vegetarian with black or kidney beans, or chili loaded with beef, there are four magical ingredients to creating a deep rich flavor. The way you handle these ingredients is key. Here they are, in order of use.

  1. Tomato Paste: Add 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste to your skillet as your are browning your onions, (or meat). Let the paste caramelize to develop a rich base flavor for your soup.
  2. Toasted Spices:  Toast your spices in a hot skillet. Reserve them to add to the pot with the liquids.
  3. Red Wine Vinegar: Just a dash — a couple of teaspoons — enhances the flavor of the tomatoes.
  4. Make it tonight, and serve it tomorrow: Any soup always taste better after an overnight chill.

You can certainly adapt these magic potions to any chili recipe you have. But, I’ve included here my recipe for vegetarian black bean chili:


  • 1 1/2 cups dry black beans
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 2 onions chopped
  • 1/2 can tomato paste
  • 5 cloves of garlic  mined
  • 3 14.5 cans vegetable broth
  • 3 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (can use canned)
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup soup cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salsa (optional)


  1. Pre-soak the beans by covering them with plenty of water. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 1 hour. Drain and reserve the beans.
  2. Place the spices in a dry skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. If you are using whole spices, grind them to a fine powder.
  3. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and tomato paste and saute for until onions are golden. Add garlic and saute for to minutes.
  4. Add the broth, tomatoes, vinegar, bay leaves and beans and spices.
  5. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 1 to 1.5 hours. Beans should be cooked and short.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Stop, cool and refrigerate. OK… just one bowl for now!
  8. To serve,  re-heat, put the cheese in the bottom of the bowl, add chili, and top with sour cream, salsa and cilantro.
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3 comments to “How To Make Rich, Intense Flavored Chili”
  1. That sounds good! Have you ever tried adding a pinch of brown sugar when you cook with tomatoes? I was always told that “brought out the flavor” of the tomato, so I have always done it. I’m not sure I remember what it’s like without!

    I had never thought to toast the spices, but I think I’ll give that a shot. Thanks, Susie.

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