Chili is the stuff of gods. No wonder there are cook-offs devoted to the stuff, featuring with secret recipes some never divulge, not even to family members.
For the record, there are two major kinds of chili—the standard kind, and the healthier kind. We won’t pick favorites, as we love a meaty Texas chili (meat sweats included) as much as a vegetable one. But there are times when you just want something a little lighter and better for your body, while still nourishing your soul.
That’s where the healthier chili recipes come in to play, primed to greet fall’s chillier weather without tipping your bathroom scale. They come in all forms, from original recipes to mindful hacks of ones already out there in the cooking sphere. Here are four recipes to get you on the healthy chili train.
What’s below is a slight modification of a Rachel Ray recipe. The bones of it are stellar, but we like to use ground turkey as opposed to turkey meat, and opt to add some kidney beans for additional substance and texture. And while it technically takes under 30 minutes to prep and cook, we recommend letting it simmer a couple of hours on low or in a slow cooker. It’ll only get better with time (in fact, it’s almost always better the next day).
- 1 can kidney beans
- Heat a deep pot over medium high heat. Work close to the stove for your chopping.
- Add oil to your pot, 1 turn of the pan, and add vegetables as you chop them.
- Add bay leaf and cook vegetables 5 minutes, stirring frequently, reducing heat if veggies start to stick.
- Stir in ground turkey meat and season with chili powder, cumin, and cayenne sauce. Season with a little salt, to taste.
- Add corn, tomatoes, beans, and broth.
- Combine your chili well, adjust seasonings, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer for 7 to 10 minutes.
- Garnish chili with chopped scallions.
This Jamie Oliver recipe is a great base to play around with. As he suggests, try a version with butternut squash or regular potatoes, as opposed to sweet potatoes. Or, mess around with your bean bill (he gives some options below). Whichever direction you go, it’s going to be very satisfying.
- 1 pound sweet potatoes
- 1 level tsp cayenne pepper, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 heaped tsp ground cumin, plus extra for sprinkling
- 1 level tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
- olive oil
- 1 onion
- 2 mixed-color peppers
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 bunch of fresh coriander
- 2 fresh mixed-color chilies
- 2 x 15-oz cans of beans, such as kidney, chickpea, pinto, cannellini
- 2 x 15-oz cans of quality plum tomatoes
- Lime or lemon juice, or vinegar, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into bite-sized chunks, then place onto a baking tray.
- Sprinkle with a pinch each of cayenne, cumin, cinnamon, sea salt and black pepper, drizzle with oil then toss to coat. Roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden and tender.
- Peel and roughly chop the onion. Halve, deseed and roughly chop the peppers, then peel and finely slice the garlic.
- Pick the coriander leaves, finely chopping the stalks. Deseed and finely chop the chilies.
- Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons of oil in a large pan over a medium-high heat, then add the onion, peppers, and garlic, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
- Add the coriander stalks, chilies and spices, and cook for a further 5 to 10 minutes, or until softened and starting to caramelize, stirring occasionally.
- Add the beans, juice and all. Tip in the tomatoes, breaking them up with the back of a spoon, then stir well.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and leave to tick away for 25 to 30 minutes, or until thickened and reduced – keep an eye on it, and add a splash of water to loosen, if needed.
- Stir the roasted sweet potato through the chili with most of the coriander leaves, then taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
- Finish with a squeeze of lime or lemon juice or a swig of vinegar, to taste, then scatter over the remaining coriander. Delicious served with yogurt or sour cream, guacamole, and rice, or tortilla chips
Going the poultry route is almost always healthier than red meat. This recipe is an adaptation of a Delish recipe, tweaked a bit. We opt to cook the corn early on, thereby caramelizing the skins and bringing out more flavor. Also, instead of chicken broth we’ve plugged in vegetable broth.
- 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2 (4.5 oz.) cans green chilies
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thirds
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 (15 oz.) cans white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1.5 cups frozen corn
- .5 cup sour cream
- freshly chopped cilantro, for garnish
- .25 cup shredded Monterey Jack
- .25 cup crushed tortilla chips
- In a large pot, over medium heat, heat oil.
- Add onion, corn, and jalapeño and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
- Add garlic, oregano, and cumin and cook until fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add green chilis, chicken, and broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 12 minutes, until chicken is tender and cooked through.
- Transfer chicken to a plate and shred with two forks. Return to pot and add white beans. Bring to a simmer and let cook, 10 minutes, using a wooden spoon to mash about 1/4 of the beans.
- Turn off heat and stir in sour cream.
- Garnish with cilantro, cheese, and chips.
The work of Martha Stewart, this recipe functions well as is but is as good or better with a different vegetable approach. It calls for zucchini, but we’re big fans of plugging in squash, carrots, or eggplant.
- In a large pot, heat oil over medium-high.
- Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent and garlic is soft, about 4 minutes.
- Add cumin and chili powder, season with salt and pepper, and cook until spices are fragrant, 1 minute.
- Add zucchini and tomato paste; cook, stirring frequently, until tomato paste is deep brick red, 3 minutes.
- Stir in black beans, pinto beans, and both cans diced tomatoes.
- Add 2 cups water and bring mixture to a boil.
- Reduce to a medium simmer and cook until zucchini is tender and liquid reduces slightly, 20 minutes.
- Season with salt and pepper.