This is my go-to chili recipe. I prefer it to chili con carne. It’s easy to cook with ingredients you probably already have in your fridge or cupboard and is forgiving since It doesn’t matter too much about quantities.

You make a fragrant sauce with celery, onion, garlic and tomatoes, incorporating as hot or mild type and quantity of chili as you like. Here I used mild chili powder, remembering that it can lose some of its heat during cooking. The sauce can be made ahead of time and can also be frozen. Any beans will work but here I used the classic: red kidney beans. Grating the carrots rather than leaving them in chunks helps give the dish a thick texture.

I prefer this chili without any topping but if you wish you can add plain yoghourt, finely chopped coriander or grated cheese.

Serves 2

1 onion

2 carrots, peeled and grated

2 sticks of celery finely chopped

½  teaspoon smoked paprika

1  teaspoon mild chili powder

½  teaspoon dried thyme

4 crushed garlic cloves

1 roasted red pepper, chopped, from a jar

I dessertspoon tomato puree

400g tin of tomatoes

100 ml dry white wine (optional)

½ teaspoon salt

Black pepper

400g tin of kidney beans drained and rinsed

Splash of vinegar


Warm some oil to cover the bottom of a heavy based pan big enough to take the whole dish. Gently fry the onion until it is translucent then add the grated carrot. Put the lid on the pan and let the vegetables cook gently for 5 minutes.

Raise the heat a little and add the paprika, chili powder, dried thyme and garlic. Stir vigorously keeping the heat at medium level for about 2 minutes. Add the red pepper, tomato puree, tinned tomatoes, wine, salt and pepper. Bring it all to the boil then reduce the heat as far as it will go, put the lid on and let it cook for another 30 minutes. The sauce should be thick. Slacken it with a little water if it looks sticky or boil it down if it seems too sloppy.

Add the kidney beans, replace the lid and give it all another 5 minutes. Check the seasoning – it may need a little more salt. At the last moment, add a splash of vinegar.

Serve with plain rice, flat breads or warmed pitta bread.