The Food Desert Project: Quick Pumpkin Chili

The Food Desert Project: Quick Pumpkin Chili

Chili is one of those wintertime foods everybody loves. It is a humble dish with an enigmatic past – some say it came by way of a mysterious Lady in Blue, others that it traces its roots to pre-Civil War Texas prison food, but everyone agrees it is delicious.  Traditional chili requires long, slow cooking, but I found a way to use pantry ingredients that comes together quickly (although the longer you allow it to simmer, the better the flavor in the end.)

I had a can of plain pumpkin puree (say that 3 times fast!) in my pantry, and of course I always keep beans, tomatoes, and canned red peppers – I realized there must be a way to bring these ingredients together. A quick google led me to a dozen or more recipes for pumpkin chili, but this one lent itself best to adaptation for my project.

While this makes a delicious and healthy vegan chili, sometimes you can find ground beef or turkey in the freezer section of a dollar store.  If so, feel free to use that as directed below, or add leftover diced cooked meat (even well-rinsed canned chicken.) No matter how you decide to make it, this recipe is a delicious one-bowl road to your five-a-day of veggies!



1 15 oz can of plain pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
1 15 oz can of white beans, well-rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can of black beans, well-rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes in juice or your favorite salsa
1 4-oz jar of diced pimientos, rinsed and drained
2-3 cups low sodium chicken or vegetable stock

(optional) 1 lb ground meat, sauteed and crumbled for 5 minutes until cooked through, and then drained of fat – or 1 large can of cooked chicken, drained and rinsed (or leftover cooked pork, chicken, turkey or beef, diced)

1 tbsp of dried minced onion
1/4 tsp granulated garlic
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
2 tsp paprika

(OR replace seasonings with 2 tbsp chili powder + 1 tbsp dried minced onion)

5 large tortilla chips, crumbled nearly to powder

Salt and pepper to taste

Dump the pumpkin, beans, tomatoes, pimentos and seasonings and, if using, meat into a large pot over medium heat.  Add 1 cup of stock and stir well. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, adding stock as needed to keep the chili at a slightly soupy consistency.  You can simmer the chili for as long as you like, the longer it cooks the better the flavor – but the longer you cook this, the more stock you will need to add.  Taste your chili, once the basic flavor is to your liking, add the ground tortilla chips and bring the chili to a boil, stirring until the liquid in the chili reduces and it thickens to your liking. Taste again and adjust the seasoning (I find that it is often necessary to add cumin as well as salt.)

The pureed pumpkin adds body as well as flavor and really brings the chili ingredients together, without changing the character of the dish too much. Makes four hearty servings or six light lunches.

Enjoy your chili with a sprinkle of cheese and some more tortilla chips!


About The Food Desert Project

Filed under: Pantry cooking, Recipe

Tags: chili, entree, pumpkin, quick

Leave a comment