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I've included the recipe exactly as it appears in the cookbook, but feel free to save yourself some time like I do and just substitute the chilis and the chipotle for just ground chili powder (I used a combination of ancho and chipotle). Also, if your ground cumin and the rest of your spices are fresh, no need to refresh with a pan toasting. Play around with the rice vinegar as it is the lovely counterpoint to all the smokiness of the dish; cider vinegar also works well here.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 8 cups
  • 2 C. black turtle beans, soaked overnight
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 4 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 chili negro or ancho chili, or 2-3 Tbs. chili powder
  • 3 Tbs. corn or peanut oil (I used vegetable or canola)
  • 3 medium yellow onions, diced into ¼ inch squares
  • 4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 1½ lb. ripe or canned tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (i just used canned diced and pureed the whole lot)
  • 1-2 tsp chopped chipotle chili (if you don't have, just use a bit more chili powder)
  • about 1 Tbs. rice wine vinegar (I like to double that)
  • 4 Tbs. cilantro, chopped
  • Suggested Garnishes:
  • ½ -3/4 C. muenster cheese, grated (I prefer sharp cheddar)
  • Green chilies (fresh roasted and diced or canned, rinsed well and diced, about 2 oz.)
  • ½ C. creme fraiche or sour cream
  • cilantro
  1. Sort through the bean and remove any small stones. Rinse them well, cover them generously with water, and let them soak overnight. Next day, drain the beans, cover them with fresh water by a couple of inches, and bring them to a boil with the bay leaf. Lower the heat and let the beans simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Heat a small heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds, and when they begin to color, add the oregano leaves, shaking the pan frequently so the herbs don't scorch. As soon as the fragrance is strong and robust, remove the pan from the heat and add the paprika and the cayenne. Give everything a quick stir; then remove from the pan -- the paprika and cayenne only need a few seconds to toast. Grind in a mortar or a spice mill to make a coarse powder.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. To make the chili powder, put the dried chili in the oven for 3 to 5 minutes to dry it out. Cool it briefly, then remove the stem, seeds and veins.
  4. Heat the oil in a large skillet, and saute the onions over medium heat until they soften. Add the garlic, salt and the ground herbs and chili powder and cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the tomatoes, their juice, about 1 teaspoon of the chipotle chili. Simmer everything together for 15 minutes; then add this mixture to the beans, and if necessary, enough water so that the beans are covered by at least 1 inch. Continue cooking the beans slowly until they are soft, an hour or longer, or pressure cook them for 30 minutes at 15 pounds pressure. Keep an eye on the water level and add more, in needed, to keep the beans amply covered.
  6. When the beans are cooked, taste them, and add more chipotle chili if desired. Season to taste with the vinegar, additional salt if desired, and the chopped cilantro.
  7. Serve the chili ladled over a large spoonful and grated cheese and garnish it with the creme fraiche or sour cream, the green chilies and a sprig of cilantro
Recipe by Portland Sampler at