Vegetable Barley Chili

I was so apprehensive about this post. We just moved and it’s the first one I’m doing from our new home. I’m still learning the new kitchen layout and stove/oven, which (I’m sure you know) means everything takes way longer to do because nothing is where I’m used to it being. Even worse, I had no idea how I was going to take the pictures, not knowing where the best natural light is here. Plus other than the actual camera, all the photography equipment is still packed. Luckily, it wasn’t raining…

Vegetable Barley Chili

To be sure I had plenty of light, I took the whole production outside on the deck… Picture me standing on a deckchair, hovering over the dish to get an overhead shot. Using the chair for a brace to stabilize my close-ups. And just in general, fawning over one bowl of chili for 30+ minutes… Now imagine what the neighbours thought as they watched this display from behind their closed curtains (you know that at least a few of them were). They must have thought the new girl was crazy… HaHa They ain’t seen nothin’ yet 😀

Vegetable Barley Chili

Anyway, about this chili. Loaded with barley, veggies, and black beans, it is one hearty dish to keep you warm and your tummy full. A great meal for the coming cooler months! Also, as a bonus, it’s quick and easy to prepare… Now I know that to some, the cocoa powder may seem like an odd ingredient here, but I love stirring a little of it into my chilies. The cocoa helps to create a richer, more complex flavour, and I promise you won’t tasted it as chocolate at all.

Have you used cocoa powder in savoury dishes before?

Vegetable Barley Chili


Veggie Barley Chili

2 tbsp Olive Oil
1 cup Coarsely Chopped Onion
1 cup Coarsely Chopped Carrots
1 Large Zucchini, diced
2 Large Garlic Cloves, minced
2 tbsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Ground Cumin
2 tsp Cocoa Powder (make sure it’s unsweetened)
1 cup Uncooked Pot Barley, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups Hot Water
2 – 3 tsp Soy Sauce
1 can (28 oz/796 g) Diced Tomatoes, do not drain
1 can (15 oz/425 g) Black Beans, drained and rinsed

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, cook until the onion begins to soften. Add the zucchini and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the chili powder, cumin, and cocoa. Add the barley, water, diced tomatoes (with the liquids from the can), and soy sauce. Stir well.

Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 35 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent the barley from burning to the bottom of the pot.

Add the black beans and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes, until the barley is tender and the chili’s consistency is to your liking. I usually end up stirring an extra 1/2 cup of water into mine to thin it out a bit.

Makes 6 servings.