Warm You Up Chili

warm you up chili

I once won a neighborhood Chili Cook-Off with my vegetarian chili recipe, which mixes bulgar wheat with the typical kidney beans and tomatoes to give a chewy, filling feel. These days I’m cooking with meat and chili is a great one-pot meal that can feed a crowd, but I’ve struggled to find a recipe I was happy with. So I set about stirring up my own. I’ve been fine-tuning for months to get the perfect proportion of meat to sauce and the tastiest mix of seasonings. I served this version for Halloween and again this week as our temperatures first dipped into winter. It was a hit! This will be a cold-season standby for my family for sure. And now I’ve got a new recipe to bring to the next Chili Cook-Off I’m invited to.

Makes 4-6 servings; double it to feed a crowd


  • 3/4 cup dried kidney beans
  • 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef (grass-fed if you can get it)
  • 1/2 pound pork sausage (mildly spiced, locally raised if possible)
  • 1/2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh oregano or 2 tsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 cups diced tomatoes (can be fresh, frozen or canned)
  • 1 cup tomato juice (can use more or less to get the consistency you like)
  • for garnish: shredded cheese, chives or cilantro, sour cream


  1. Rinse dried beans. Then place in saucepan and cover with water. Add salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Simmer for about an hour or until beans are soft.
  2. In the meantime, brown meats in large, heavy bottom skillet or Dutch oven. Drain fat. Remove to bowl and set aside.
  3. Warm oil in that same Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add onion, pepper, garlic and jalapeño if using and sauté until they begin to soften. Lower heat to medium, add spices and cook another 2 to 3 minutes, until tender.
  4. Add tomatoes and cook until they are heated and break down into a sauce, 5 to 10 minutes.
  5. Stir cooked meat back into the veggie mixture. Stir in cooked beans. Pour in tomato juice, one cup at a time until reach desired consistency. Bring mixture to a simmer and cover. Simmer for an hour or so, stirring occasionally. Can add more tomato juice or water to keep chili at desired consistency.
  6. Scoop into bowls and garnish with favorite toppings. Serve with corn bread or tortilla chips.

This post was shared at Fiesta Friday #145.