The Simplest Chili

What’s the best chili recipe out there? The one you love.

ChiliLike many of you, I have several “go to” recipes that I often put to work, yet I am always on the hunt for something new, something different.

I find a new recipe, give it a whirl as is and take notes. I jot down the flavor combinations, what I would change, what I loved, what I don’t love so much and if I would add, subtract or change cooking time. The end result is generally a slight modification of the original.

The original recipes are fantastic and I don’t modify them because I think I’m making them better, they are already amazing. I modify them for me. Perhaps I drop the salt level and add a bit more of another spice or ingredient to offset it. Perhaps there is a flavor in the recipe that I simply am not a fan of. I am not making the recipe better, I am simply tailoring it to my taste.

The temps have been low, the skies dark and the snow was piling high. I wanted something warm, so a few weeks ago I sat down in search of the perfect chili recipe. I browsed through cookbooks, online sites and asked a few culinary-friendly peeps what their thoughts on the perfect ingredients for a great bowl of chili.

So the question was, how many different recipes are there for chili? More than I initially realized and I found it’s deliciously overwhelming. I could talk to one neighbor and he would tell me his recipe is the only chili anyone should ever  cook. If I talk to another neighbor, she would tell me hers is the only “true” chili. Nothing else will do. Do you know what the perfect chili is? It’s the chili you like. It’s whatever makes your taste buds dance. When it comes to cooking in your home, that’s exactly how you should cook. Try new recipes and if it just seems like it’s missing something or has too much of something else, instead of dismissing it, give it a twist and tweak and make it your own. It may become a family favorite.

chili stepWhat I found is that people are serious about their chili recipes. Some only use ground beef. Some only chunks of sirloin. Some a mixture of ground beef and pork and the thickness and vegetable content and type varied as well. By a lot.

So I jotted down all the “basic” ingredients and decided to wing it based on what I like in my chili. Again, what’s the best chili recipe? It’s the one with all of the ingredients in it that you like.

I like my chili to be colorful. I know that sounds strange, traditionally it’s a brownish-orangish-red color, however I love green, purple, red, yellow and Mother Nature has an incredible palette of colors in her vegetables that allow me to make the recipe as visually appealing as I would like.

Next, I like crunch. I know the flavors need to meld to create chili perfection, so I added all the veggies in early with a small amount of each, set aside to add a few minutes before the simmer portion was finished. I like a smattering of fresh flavor and crunch.

Thickness. Some chili peeps were adamant that it needs to be thick like molasses, while others were more of a soupy-sloshy consistency. I didn’t focus on this portion at all, I simply gathered my ingredients.

I love fresh vegetables and decided this recipe would reflect that. I added green pepper, jalapeno pepper, small red chili peppers, white and purple onions, garlic, fresh tomatoes and a smattering of spices ( see in recipe below )

Chili Step VIII did not use tomato puree or sauce as a few of the recipes called for. I purchased 3 – 14 oz cans of fire-roasted tomatoes and took 2 of the cans and puréed them with a bit of garlic, olive oil and fresh ground black pepper before adding to the dish. The third can went directly into the chili without modification.

How was it? Superb. It was spicy, it was chunky and full of flavor. I am working on my sodium level, so I kept the sodium level down with S&W’s low sodium beans, did not add any other salt, however I did toss in a bit extra pepper, garlic and cumin. ( Heart healthy facts below recipe )

Simple Chili

chili finish IIIIngredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 2 small red chili peppers, diced
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 white onion, diced or chopped ( your choice )
  • 1 red onion, diced or chopped ( your choice )
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
  • 3 14-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1   14 ounce can S&W 50% less sodium kidney beans, drain and rinse
  • 1   14 ounce can S&W 50% less sodium black beans, drain and rinse
  • 1 cup water ( variable, to desired thickness )
  • Fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions for garnish

**Note: I did not add salt to this recipe. Taste before simmering and add salt to taste.


Add 1/8 cup olive oil, 2 cans of fire-roasted tomatoes, a small bit of chopped garlic and black pepper to food processor or blender and puree. Set aside.

In large pot add a bit of oil and ground beef or meat of your choice. Toss in onions, peppers and half of the garlic.

When meat is cooked, drain excess oil/fat and add tomatoes, tomato puree, other half of the garlic, seasonings, water and bring to boil.

Add beans, cover and simmer 1 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

**I kept out a bit of the fresh garlic, onions, tomato bits and green pepper to add to the pot 10-15 minutes before serving to maintain a bit of color and “crunch”.

Top your chili with what you love. I chose cheddar cheese, crumbled bacon, green onions, fresh tomatoes and jalapeno slices.

Did You Know:

Chili BeansHeart disease is the No. 1 cause of death worldwide and claims more than 370,000 Americans each year. But what you may not know is that 80 percent of heart disease deaths are caused by preventable factors, like obesity, physical inactivity and more. Thankfully, beans help fight 6 major heart disease and stroke risk factors and can be easily added to tons of unexpectedly delicious recipes, like post-workout smoothies, blondies, burgers and more.

Thank you S&W Beans for the sample assortment of S&W 50% Less Sodium beans – certified by the American Heart Association – to use in a recipe for our readers!

Fast facts:

  • Body Weight & Diet: Many Low-cal fruits and veggies come with a boost of fiber to support digestion and keep you feeling full longer to help you meet your healthy weight goals.
  • Cholesterol: Veggies, like beans, are naturally cholesterol-free and rich in soluble fiber to control bad cholesterol.
  • Blood Pressure: Most fruits and veggies contain no sodium which helps keep blood pressure (a risk factor for heart disease) at bay.
  • Diabetes: Beans provide insoluble fiber to lower risk for type 2 diabetes, a risk factor for heart disease. Plus the soluble fiber slows absorption of carbs to help keep blood sugar in check.


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