You can use as many jalapeno peppers as you like in this recipe. The amounts I have given will produce a mildly spicy chilli, so as not to overwhelm the other flavours. Serve extra peppers on the side for those who like a bit more heat
Soak the beans in cold water overnight. Drain and place into a large saucepan with the onion, thyme and bay leaves and cover with 8 cups of water. Bring to the boil and then continue to boil for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, partially covered, or until the beans are tender.
Drain the cooked beans and remove the bay leaves and any thyme stalks.
Roast the capsicums under a very hot grill or in the flames of a gas burner until blackened all over. Place in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow the capsicums to steam for 10 minutes then peel off the skin, cut in half and remove the stalk and seeds. Place the capsicum flesh in a food processor and blend to a purée.
Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat and sauté garlic for 1 minute. Stir in the jalapeno peppers and then the capsicum purée, beans, crushed tomatoes and salt, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Lower the heat to very low. Toss the cheese with the flour and add to the stew gradually, stirring constantly until well blended. Serves 8 with the shredded beef and ale chilli, or 4-6 on its own.