Black Bean-Butternut Chili with Masa Dumplings

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Instead of serving this chili with cornbread or crackers, here we drop small masa dumplings into the bubbly stew. Diced winter squash adds nutrients, flavor and a hearty texture. Serve with Mexican beer with lime wedges.


For the chili:

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz./235 g) yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) vegetable broth
  • 1 can (15 oz./470 g) fire-roasted diced tomatoes in juice
  • 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) cubed butternut squash (1/2-inch/12-mm cubes)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 can (15 oz./425 g) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

For the masa dumplings:

  • 1/2 cup (2 3/4 oz./80 g) masa harina
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 6 Tbs. (3 fl. oz./90 ml) milk, or more as needed
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro


To make the chili, in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and cloves and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute. Add the broth, tomatoes, squash and bay leaf, and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, cover and cook until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes.

While the squash is cooking, make the dumplings: In a bowl, whisk together the masa harina, flour, baking powder and salt. Using your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour mixture until finely crumbled. Add the milk and cilantro and stir gently until the dough comes together. (If the dough seems dry, add a little more milk, 1 tsp. at a time.) Gently form the dumpling mixture into 1-inch (2.5-cm) balls.

Uncover the chili, add the beans and season to taste with salt and pepper. Drop the dumplings into the soup, pushing them down into the liquid until they are half submerged. Cover and simmer until the dumplings are puffy and cooked through, about 8 minutes. (To test for doneness, fish a dumpling out of the soup and cut it in half. It should be dry and fluffy in the center. If not, cover and continue to cook for a few more minutes.)

Ladle the chili and dumplings among deep soup bowls, dividing evenly, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams Sonoma Weeknight Vegetarian, by Kristine Kidd (Weldon Owen 2014)

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