to making stuff.

Chili with Beans

A Yankee Girl's Guide Chili with Beans

With last week’s post about beans [Beans the Magical Legume] I feel I have to share my favorite chili formula. I’m not one for recipes, and when I do use a recipe it is mainly for inspiration than step-by-step instruction. There are a few things I won’t do on the fly, but chili is one that I always do on the fly based on the formula below. It is always good.

Chili Recipe (or formula)

This chili can be vegetarian, or just meatless, or with meat. I have included instructions that don’t include meat. Cook your meat, seasoned at least with salt and pepper, and set aside. Save any fat for sauteeing your veggies.

Choose your cooking oil. You can use olive oil, vegetable oil, bacon grease (my favorite), or other appropriate cooking oil. 

The most essential ingredients are in bold. Others can be included or left out as you wish, but make sure you don’t only use the essential ingredients as it will be bland indeed.

  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1 diced carrot or celery
  • 1-2 cloves garlic diced fine
  • 28oz can of tomato (I prefer crushed, diced or puree is fine)
  • A squirt or spoonful of tomato paste
  • 1 cup corn (frozen is OK)
  • 2-4 cups your favorite pre-cooked beans (1-2 16oz cans)
  • A few heaping spoonfuls pureed squash (doesn’t affect flavor much at all but adds nutrition)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cayenne powder to taste (start small, you can always add more)
  • 1/2 teas. garlic powder (if you didn’t use fresh garlic)
  • 1 teas. cumin (for GREAT flavor, toast the cumin on a dry hot pan first for 10 seconds)
  • 2 TB unsweetened cocoa powder (good especially for vegetarian you really need that special savory flavor and this makes it great)
  • 1/2 TB paprika

You can replace most of the spices (aside from cocoa powder) with a store bought chili powder. Use your own judgement about how much you like in your chili.


  1. Sautee onions, bell pepper, celery or carrot in your oil of choice. Sprinkle a pinch or two of salt, and cook until onions are translucent.
  2. All optional steps…
    • When onions are translucent, put in diced garlic for 2-3 minutes. They burn easily so don’t let them go for too long.
    • Now add your spices to a small bowl, then dump into the pot. If you are unsure about how spicy you want this then leave the cayenne out and do it at the end. All spice measurements are guesses, I just sprinkle them in and have a good sense for what I like. Putting them into the sauteed veggies and oil helps bring out more flavor and make them toasty, but it’s not necessary.
    • Sprinkle in some corn meal if you have it for a nice texture and a bit of thickening.
  3. Add in your remaining ingredients that you have chosen from the list above.
  4. Add remaining spices to taste, including salt and pepper.
  5. Heat on medium until the corn is done and everything is heated through. At least 10 minutes, but preferably a bit longer to really mingle and develop those flavors.

Cheddar is a MUST to accompany chili in our house, and preferrably sour cream as well. Remember, you are the cook! The point of this recipe is to use what you have on hand and make a hearty tasty meal.

Written on September 13, 2013 by Kristin (Yankee Girl).

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