The Best Ever Campfire Chilli

I recently went on a great camping trip with friends to celebrate my boyfriend’s 30th (🙊) birthday. We went to one of our favourite spots in North Wales – Snowdonia! – and took along some great food to enjoy whilst there.

This recipe is from the amazing recipe book “Wild Baking – Food, Fire and Good Times” by Tom Herbert. Honestly, this guy is like Ray Mears meets Rick Stein (but much younger and far better looking!) he’s a baker by trade but is completely obsessed with the outdoors.

His love for the wilderness, adventure, fresh air and countryside marries together perfectly with his skill and passion for baking. In the book, he tells us everything we need to know about how to master outdoor baking, from equipment needed to what’s best to enjoy where.

Split into Forest, Beach, Mountain and River the book itself takes you on its own little adventure.

This “Vegetarian ‘I Can’t Believe There’s No Meat, This Is Amazing!’ Chilli” (as Tom names it!) falls within the Beach section of the book. But honestly, it works just as well enjoyed within the moody Welsh valleys of the mighty Snowdon. Or even just at home. But I urge you to eat this outdoors, if you can!

The recipe makes enough to feed six, takes 30 minutes prep and 2 hours slow cooking time. Get your lentils soaking before you do anything else and then get ready to throw it all together. It’s perfect to make ahead, portion and freeze too if you’re just going to enjoy it at home!

To make the recipe vegan: Simply omit the soured cream at the end and be sure to use a vegan-friendly dark chocolate!


  • 1 cup spelt or barley grains
  • 1 cup lentils (any type)
  • A generous glug of oil
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 4 onions (2 red, 2 white is good), chopped
  • 1/2 head of garlic, cloves peeled and smashed
  • 3 red peppers (charred for extra flavour, see method below), deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, deseeded and roughly chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 400g tin kidney beans, drained and sieve rinsed
  • 1 400g tin chickpeas, drained and sieve rinsed
  • 1-2 whole scotch bonnet chillies, left whole
  • 1 cup strong black coffee
  • Big squeeze of tomato puree
  • 3 tbsp muscovado sugar
  • 1/2 bar dark chocolate
  • Salt and pepper
  • Big handful of fresh coriander
  • Fresh lime, ripe avocado and soured cream, to serve


  1. Soak the grains and lentils in 2 cups of water – the longer the better. Meanwhile, set a large, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the oil and whole spices. Add the chopped onions and once they are golden, add the smashed garlic. Add the peppers and allow to soften for 5 minutes stirring occasionally to see nothing burns to the bottom (add a splash more oil if things begin to stick).
  2. Add the tinned tomatoes and rinsed beans and chickpeas. Swill the tomato tins out with water and add this to the pan. Add all the remaining ingredients (except the coriander) including the grains and lentils and their starchy water. Stir everything together and put the lid on.
  3. Stir the chilli occasionally – checking for seasoning and chilli heat – making sure it also doesn’t catch on the bottom of the pan (top up with more water if needed). After about 1-2 hours, your chilli should be lovely and thick – once the grains are soft with a little bite, the chilli is done!
  4. Tip: Add the scotch bonnet chillies to the pot whole. Periodically taste your chilli and when the heat level is right you can whip these out.

To char the red peppers before cooking:

This adds a level of intensity to the flavour of the chilli and I’d recommend taking the time to do this as it’s so easy! I used the grill method for roasting peppers from The Kitchn. But you can also do them on the hob or barbecue.

To serve your chilli at the campsite:

To serve, heat the chilli gently and serve with brown rice, toasted sourdough or baked potatoes. Add a dollop of soured cream, some chunks of avocado, a squeeze of fresh lime and a generous pile of torn coriander, dig in and enjoy!


  1. 13 August 2018 / 9:41 am

    That chilli looks blumin’ gorgeous. I like a meat free version. Stunning scenery too.

    • Sophie
      13 August 2018 / 12:22 pm

      ooooh it’s so yummy! it’s the dark choc and coffee that set it apart from other recipes I have tried and I will never look back! and this is such a stunning spot in north Wales, too! 😀

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