Please tell me you’re week needs some delicious comfort right about now because, if so, this is exactly what you need!
How do you feel about chili? To me it always seems like chili is one of those meals that doesn’t get appreciated enough. I don’t get it, it’s so homey and chock full of flavors, oh, and you can load it with so many good things like guacamole and eat it with cornbread, YUM!. Plus, it’s versatile and you can do so many things with it (Hello chili-cheese fries!), what’s not to love?
I have to tell you, even within my own family chili isn’t the most popular. I mean, everyone will eat it but it isn’t a favorite by any measure and it’s never a first choice. I find it surprising too, because usually everyone really enjoys it once it’s made and wonders why we don’t have it more often. But then when it’s gone they quickly forget how good it is and it plunges down on the popularity list until the next time I feel like reviving it and convincing them how great it is.
A few days ago I realized how long it had been since my last cozy warm soup or chili recipe, way too long I’d say. That’s why I started brainstorming for what type I should make, and with it being October, I felt like doing something fun and festive would be a good idea. It just so happened that I had finally gotten around to roasting a pumpkin on the same day. I was trying to get myself into an autumn food mood.
Something else to confess, I honestly used to be really grossed out by the idea of eating the flesh of a pumpkin. Mostly I think it was because of all the years my mom and dad would carve pumpkins with us as kids. Oh my goodness, those are really fun memories. I’ll never forget the first time my dad asked me to help clean one of them out, you know, because you have to stick your hands into the stringy, seed-filled center in order to do it. I loved helping even though how the smell was so squashy and the feeling of it on my hands made me want to gag a little bit. Yeah, so that’s why I never considered actually eating them. In my mind they were simply organic mediums for seasonal art.
So this variation of chili just might be my new favorite. In the past I’ve made it with Mexican flair, or tried different beans and meat combinations, or tested multiple levels of spiciness. Like I said, it’s so versatile. This one though, it’s just so full of nostalgic tastes of autumn that I can’t see ever beating it. And if you happened to browse the ingredient list yet, then yes, I did put apples in it. You’re going to have to trust me on this one guys, it’s so good!
This would be a great tailgate party meal and, if you’re as into leftovers as we are, you should know it actually gets better next day! One more thing, don’t forget to serve it with all the good toppings you like. I added pumpkin seeds (or pepitas) this time to complete the whole picture and because I’m having a moment with them right now. Yeah, you can’t skip the pepitas!
Cuddle up tonight with a bowl of this comforting and healthy chili featuring some of Autumn's best produce!
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 medium bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and diced
- 2 cups fresh pumpkin, peeled and cut into small cubes*
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
- 1 cup tomato paste
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 3 cups water, plus a little more as needed
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 2 tablespoons liquid smoke
- 2 tablespoons sriracha (optional)
- 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons coconut sugar (or 2 tablespoons brown sugar)
- 2 cups cooked lentils, drained and rinsed
- 2 cans white white beans, undrained
- 1 can cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cloves
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- roasted pepitas
- chives or green onions
- coconut yogurt
- In a large, high-sided pot or skillet. Add the water, onion, bell pepper, apple, pumpkin, garlic, and jalapeño, and cook for 8 - 10 minutes until the pumpkin is tender. Add the remaining chili ingredients and bring the mixture to a boil while stirring gently. Boil for about 8 to 10 minutes then reduce heat to simmer.
- Season to taste with additional salt and pepper if desired. Cover with lid and allow it to simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour until to give the flavors time to meld well.
- Serve hot, topped with desired toppings and any sides you like such and cornbread or garlic toast. My favorite is to eat it on top of regular or sweet potatoes!
*If you have the time or it is more convenient, you can use roasted pumpkin cubes instead and simply add them to the chili in step 3.