Mornings and nights are down right chilly, and days can’t be far behind. We’re heading into the season where we crave soups and stews and other foods that warm us from the inside out.
The problem is most dishes that offer that kind of comfort take a long time to cook. I don’t know about you, but my schedule hasn’t lightened up just because daylight offers me fewer hours.
One of my favorite weekday dishes in fall and winter is Quick Pumpkin Chili. My weekend chili takes a couple of hours on the stove or all day in a slow cooker, but this one can be on the table in 30 minutes or less, depending on how fast you can chop.
The not-so-secret ingredient is the pumpkin. Don’t think this will taste like a pumpkin spice latte. Pumpkin actually tastes fairly neutral, just slightly sweet and earthy. It also works as a thickener, much like tomato paste, but it loses its canned flavor almost immediately when heated.
Bonus: This chili is more healthful than most long-cooked varieties. The pumpkin pumps up the vitamin A and adds significantly less sodium than tomatoes. Using ground turkey or chicken in place of beef cuts the saturated fat. And this dish is so delicious, you won’t want to doctor it up with mounds of cheese or crackers (though a dab of sour cream doesn’t hurt).
Makes 4 to 6 servings
One of the keys of getting maximum flavor for this chili is finely chopping the onion and mincing the garlic. Smaller pieces mean less time to cook and more surface area to release flavor more quickly.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 can (15 ounces) pumpkin (not pie filling)
3 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes with juices
1 cup canned reduced-sodium chicken broth or water
1 can (15 ounces) garbanzo beans or cannellini beans, drained
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add jalapeno and garlic. Stir 1 minute. Add turkey or chicken. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink.
Add pumpkin to pot. Sprinkle with chili powder and cumin. Season generously with salt and pepper. Stir 2 minutes or until spices are fragrant. Stir in tomatoes with juices and broth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Stir in beans. Heat through.
- To make this vegetarian: Leave out the meat, add another can of beans and use water instead of broth.
- To increase the spiciness: Leave the seeds in the jalapeno and add ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle chili powder.