It never fails. When the calendar switches to Labor Day, the hot summer weather suddenly gives way to cool temperatures, brisk nights, and often, rain. It’s like clockwork every single year. And just like that, my cravings do a full 180, from big crisp salads to warm, comforting meals. My husband loves soup, but I’m more into hearty dinners, so we compromise with dishes like this Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Bacon Chili.
Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Bacon Chili to Spice Up Dinner
This flavorful chili will warm you up from the inside-out! It’s filled with comforting foods that also happen to be quite nutritious. But here are some more suggestions for adapting the recipe to suit your own needs, cravings, and kitchen staples.
Tips to Customize this Dairy-Free Chili Recipe
Spicy to Mild – The heat in this recipe comes from the chili powder, chipotle powder, and jalapeno. If you want to crank up the fire, add more jalapeno or chipotle powder to taste. On the contrary, you can make this a mild chili by omitting the chipotle and jalapeno, and using a mild chili powder. It isn’t always noted on the package, but you run of the mill chili powder can vary widely in intensity.
Special Diets – You can see my suggestions for making this recipe vegan and/or gluten-free below. But be sure to check the broth – it’s a sneaky ingredient. Some brands contain dairy, wheat, soy, or other top allergens. Choose one that works for your needs.
Very Veggie – I won’t tell if you add more vegetables! Late season chopped zucchini is wonderful in chili. I also like parsnips and substituting some part Yukon gold potato for the sweet potato. Most root vegetables will cook in about the same time.
Make it Paleo – Simply omit the barley and black beans, and add 1-pound chopped chicken. You can saute it in the bacon fat until cooked through. You might want to add some of the veggie ideas above to bulk it up with more nutrition. Add the broth as needed. Since you aren’t using grains, the end result will be a little “soupier.”
Special Diet Notes: Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Bacon Chili
For gluten-free chili, I recommend substituting whole grain sorghum for the barley. It has the same toothy, pasta-like taste. You can alternatively omit the barley.
- Circulon Symmetry Chocolate 5.5-Quart Casserole
- 6 slices thick-cut smoked bacon, chopped (see Vegan Option below)
- 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into ¾-inch pieces
- 2 medium onions, chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
- 2 cups chicken broth (see Vegan Option below)
- 1 (14-ounce) can no-salt-added fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup quick-cooking barley
- ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Heat a 5.5-quart casserole pot over medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until browned and crisp, about 7 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a paper towel-covered plate.
- Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon fat from the pot, and return it to the stove over medium-high heat. Add the sweet potatoes, onions and jalapeno. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in the chili powder, cumin, oregano, and chipotle powder and cook for just 15 seconds.
- Pour in the broth, tomatoes, beans and barley. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender and the barley is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the bacon and salt.
- Let the chili stand 15 minutes before serving.