Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

The Holidays According to Nashville, Part 4: Jilah Kalil, Founder, Cooking Up

What would happen if your kids were let loose with a sweet potato, a can of beans, and a DIY chili recipe? Yumminess, that’s what!

The holidays are a great time to include your kids in the kitchen. To help your family achieve this, throughout December we will be sharing seasonal recipes from cooks across Nashville. These are all dishes to help you celebrate, and help you include the kiddos in the fun of cooking and baking this holiday season.

For our next installment, Cooking Up’s Founder, cooking teacher Jilah Kalil, shares with us her chili recipe, easy to adopt for any Vegan family members. A note from Jilah:

When I first started making this recipe, my children, who are now 21, were only 3 or 4. They were not fond of the texture of beans, but liked sweet potatoes. This is why I started using an immersion blender- they had no idea beans were part of the dish! As they progressed through eating phases and wanted to participate in cooking more, this recipe stayed a favorite. They could help with the chopping of onions and sweet potatoes, stirring in each ingredient and, because each person adds their own toppings, gave them control over their own bowl of chili. They now live in cities far away from me, but continue to make this dish, as do I.

As I work with low-income community members in Nashville, this dish is a favorite because it is low in cost and high in nutrition, as well as a simple meal to prepare and can be made in bulk. When teaching families to cook at home, it is important to find ways for children of all ages to participate. This makes the cooking process a way to spend time together and reduces the efforts of the caregiver in putting dinner on the table.

Makes 1 large pot of chili


  • olive oil
  • 1-2 large sweet potatoes, peeled & cubed
  • 1 large can black beans, drained
  • 1-2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 large can pureed tomatoes
  • water or broth to cover, about 2-4 cups
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: chilis in adobo sauce or spicy peppers


1.In a large soup pot with a lid, add olive oil to coat bottom, heat to medium high. Add chopped onions & sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.

2. Add cubed sweet potatoes & sauté for 5-7 minutes. (Optional: if adding spicy peppers or chilis in adobo sauce, add here with sweet potatoes)

3. Add canned tomatoes, black beans, and enough water or broth to cover. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until potatoes are soft but not mushy (should be able to easily put a fork into the potatoes). Season with salt and pepper.

4. To serve: top with shredded cheese, avocado/guacamole, chopped red onions, cilantro, sour cream, anything or nothing that makes your bowl of chili delicious.

*For those who prefer a smoother texture, use an immersion blender to puree until smooth, then add whatever toppings you like

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