Store Cupboard Saviours: Mixed Bean Chili


All out of fresh ideas in the kitchen? Fear not - this student classic will rock your world.

Article Image

Image by Tom Swinnen

By Annabel Mulliner

I don’t know if any other vegetarians have found that Quorn is being hoarded just as much as toilet paper is, but it’s become a significant problem in my life. My family refuses to eat legume-based dishes like this, meaning a Quorn hunt is on every time I cook for them. But if I were cooking just for myself, I’d go for beany goodness every time.

This recipe was one of probably three recipes that I cooked for myself every week in first year. It’s cheap, you don’t really need any fresh ingredients, it’s full of fibre and protein, and versatile. Rice is the healthy option for a side dish, but I love it with chips and cheese. Pair this with a buttery baked potato, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. Pop it in a burrito - go wild. This masterpiece will keep in your freezer for three months.

It might sound like I’m being overly passionate about beans, but you’ll understand once you’ve made this for yourself. One pet peeve I have about other beany recipes is that the beans are never stewed long enough for my liking. It’s so much more pleasant to chow down on a soft, tasty mixture of chili than it is to munch your way through barely-cooked legumes. So, I like to cook the mixture down until there’s little liquid left, but this is a personal preference. I also like my chili extra spicy. But if you’re the sort of person who opts for lemon and herb at Nando’s, you can dial down the spices here. I would recommend keeping the paprika but ditching the cayenne, which has a sour, punchier flavour.

Of course, it’s harder now than ever to track down ingredients. What’s great about chili is you can chuck in any leftover veg you like, or even some lentils. My flatmate puts cauliflower and broccoli in her chili, which has always concerned me. But in these unholy times, there are worse things to worry about.

I’ve also added a little guacamole recipe which is in no way authentic, but it’s quick and easy.

Ingredients (serves 3-4 depending on your portion size)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion
4 cloves garlic
1 large carrot
1 red pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
A squirt of ketchup
400g chopped tomatoes
300ml vegetable stock
1 tin kidney beans
1 tin cannellini beans
1 tin black beans
1 tsp paprika, cayenne, oregano, cumin, coriander
2 tsp dried chili flakes/chili powder
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

1 ripe avocado
1 clove garlic
2cm slice of red onion
A handful of cherry tomatoes, or half of a large tomato
1 tbsp sour cream (plain yoghurt will do)
Chili flakes
Salt and pepper

To serve
70g basmati rice per person
Grated cheese



  1. Finely dice your white onion and red pepper. Simmer on a low heat in a large saucepan – you don’t want to caramelize the onions, just let them sweat a bit.
  2. Crush your garlic and add to the pan. Grate your carrot directly into the mixture (it’s much quicker than cutting it small).
  3. Soften this mixture for about 5 minutes.
  4. Drain and rinse your beans, before chucking them in with the chopped tomatoes, stock, puree, ketchup, and all your spices and seasonings. The ketchup is unorthodox, but it adds a nice sweetness.
  5. Give it a good stir, and you’re basically done. Have a taste, and adjust your spice if needs be. Go and make your guacamole while this bad boy simmers for about fifty minutes.
  6. Cook your rice according to the packet instructions, timing it to be ready at the same as the chili.
  7. Remember to remove your bay leaf, before you serve your chili on top of the rice with cheese, guac, nachos, all that good stuff.


  1. Chop up your avocado and mash it in a bowl.
  2. Finely dice your portion of red onion, along with your tomatoes. Crush your garlic. Add them to your avocado.
  3. Dollop your dairy into the mix, along with your seasonings. Give it a mix and it’s ready to go.

Image Credits: Matthew King