Heirloom Bean Chili

There are plenty of reasons to seek out a local farm to source all or most of your vegetables — dry beans included. At our organic farm, we have a strictly local model of doing business, which lets us place a very high priority on the nutritional content and flavor profile of the crops we choose to grow.

We grow some stunningly beautiful varieties of dry beans at our farm, but even when we’re reaching for them at the grocery store, we mostly avoid the canned kind since the white lining used most often in commercially canned foods contains bisphenol-A (BPA). BPA is a known endocrine disruptor. For reasons I don’t understand, the Food and Drug Administration recommends limited exposure to it, but allows its almost ubiquitous use in commercially canned foods.

So where do you go to find your very own farmers? To search for who’s growing food near you, go to a local farmers market and get advice there, or visit www.localharvest.org. A good old Internet search for ‘local farms’ can also turn up plenty of happy results.

Vegan Turtle Bean Chili Recipe


Turtle beans are small black beans. Their inky color fades in the process of cooking.


3 cups black turtle beans
½ cup bulgur
1 onion
3 tablespoons whole cumin seeds (3 teaspoons ground)
1 tablespoon fresh oregano (1 teaspoon dried)
3 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon sunflower oil
¼ teaspoon salt
32 ounces chopped or canned tomatoes*
2 cups water, or more
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, for garnish (optional, not vegan)
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Clean and soak the beans as described above. Saute the onion and whole cumin seeds in the oil, adding ¼ teaspoon of salt. When the cumin is fragrant and the onions begin to darken, add the rest of the ingredients. When the beans are tender and the liquid is reduced to a consistency you like, taste for salt and seasonings and serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a good dose of cilantro.

— To avoid BPA, use tomatoes canned in glass containers, preserve them yourself in the fall, or just buy fresh ones.

Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 7 hours (mostly soaking and simmering)

View this recipe as published in the Petoskey News-Review here.

Mary BrowerComment