Place a large heavy-bottomed pot (or Dutch oven) over medium heat. Pour in the olive oil and wait until shimmering, about 20 seconds. Add in the diced onion and stir for 3-4 minutes. Add in the diced pepper and cook these veggies, stirring occasionally, until they are all very tender, about 6-9 minutes.
While the veggies are getting soft, mince the garlic and measure out all the spices, combining them into a small bowl: the chili powder, oregano, cumin, dried basil, salt, cayenne pepper, paprika, pepper, and sugar. Stir together and set aside until onion/pepper are tender.
Add in the garlic and all the seasonings. Cook, stirring constantly, until the seasonings and garlic are fragrant, about 45 seconds - 1 minute. Be careful to not burn.
Carefully add in the undrained diced tomatoes (they might sizzle splatter up a bit) and stir. Add in the drained and rinsed black beans, drained and rinsed pinto beans, chiles (if desired), frozen corn, and vegetable stock. Add in the bay leaf.
Stir to combine everything. Reduce the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer, and stir occasionally, for 25-30 minutes.
Remove 1 and 1/2 cups of the chili and transfer to a blender. To avoid a mess, remove your blender lid's center insert and hold a kitchen towel firmly over the top. Ensure the lid is securely fashioned and blend while holding the towel. Once smooth, pour this mixture back into your chili. Stir to combine.
Add fresh lime and fresh cilantro as desired. Season to taste (I always add in a little bit more salt & pepper). Garnish individual bowls with everyone's favorite toppings. For us, sour cream and Cheddar cheese are must-haves!
Spiciness: Depending on the actual spices you are using (some brands are hotter/milder than others) you might want to scale up or down on spices in this chili.