Chili: How do you like it?

My mom would make chili on a regular basis. It was a simple recipe using only a few ingredients and it was good! Meat, kidney beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and onion. She served it sopped up with crackers. It was a perfect filling meal for a cool Fall day.

However, I recently was making chili and for some reason didn’t follow Stephanie’s excellent recipe and didn’t have my mother’s. Mine turned out a little……bland and uninspiring.

What went wrong?

I think my quest for a “kid friendly” chili went a little too far (though to be fair, Elena loved the chili and it did seem just right for her). So, I don’t have a good chili recipe to share with you….yet. I do hope to share my mom’s sometime.

But it made me want to get your feedback. There are a lot of different ideas of what chili should be like. How do you like yours? With beans? Without? How about tomatoes? How do you season yours?

I would love to hear you how you like your chili. If you want share recipes, links, thoughts, and ideas in the comment section!

Meanwhile, I thought that wikipedia, as usual had very interesting information about the origins of chili. For an interesting read, check it out!

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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  1. Lisa Imerman says

    I make chiii frequently. I love it. I saute onion, celery, carrots (good way to hide veggies so you can add whatever you want) till translucent and softened, then add garlic and spices. With the spices I use (I eyeball the amounts so I am guesstimating here) about 1/2 teaspoon of ground coriander, tsp cumin, 2- 3 tablespoons of chili powder (I use Penzey’s Regular and it isn’t too spicy), some sea salt to taste, ground black pepper, oregano (1/2 a teaspoon or so). I saute those for a minute then add the beef and cook it while breaking it up till all cooked through. I then add tomato sauce (pureed tomatoes–either homemade or canned) and tomato paste. I let that cook for a bit and add beans (I like pinto and black beans). I let it cook at a simmer for at least 1/2 an hour to meld flavors and then I taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. I serve with sour cream, corn tortilla chips and cheese. I also serve with a local hot sauce as my daughter, husband and I like it spicier than the boys.

  2. jamie says

    I add quite a bit of chili powder, cumin, paprika, onion, garlic, and peppers (hot banana work great) It’s flavorful without being too spicy. HTH

  3. says

    I don’t know if you’ve made my recipe, Kimi, but it’s pretty kid-friendly. It definitely has flavor and a very mild kick, but even my 2 year old can eat it no problem. My husband doesn’t really care for spicy food, so although I include a bit of cayenne, it’s not enough to make it hot. And if you do make it slightly too hot, sour cream will definitely tame it for Elena’s sake. Hope you find a recipe you love, because chili is just sooo good! 🙂

    • KimiHarris says

      Hey Stephanie,

      Yes, I have tried your chili and it was wonderful! I was trying to make a tomato free one, but it was not successful (unless Elena’s opinion counts) LOL.

  4. Kristi says

    I do a very simple chili. Saute onion and fresh garlic, add in half ground beef and half bulk italian sausage (mild if I think the kiddo will attempt to eat it, spicy if for adults), once that’s cooked I add in my spices and cook for a minute or two. I don’t measure the spices but start with (in decreasing order of quantity) New Mexico Chili Powder (again, not TOO much if the kiddo will be consuming), ground cumin, dried oregano, paprika (sweet and/or smoked), garlic powder, perhaps coriander, salt/pepper, perhaps a pinch of cinnamon or cocoa powder. Then I add in the liquid–chicken stock is a splurge because I go through it so fast and don’t have much left in freezer but water is the norm. I add in whatever tomatoes I have on hand–typically a big can of crushed or whole roma and chopped fresh tomatoes if I have some, kidney beans (I cook those ahead and freeze extras), and simmer until it tastes good or it’s time to eat! I like mine soupy, so I’ll use a fair amount of liquid. We hail from the midwest so we really enjoy chili over some form of pasta with cheese on top (Cincinnati style) though I’m abstaining from the pasta to be more TF.

    • KimiHarris says

      Also very helpful! And I and never heard of Cincinnati style chili before! So is it supposed to be over pasta? Is that what defines it?

      • Kristi says

        Ohio natives (near Cincinnati), we’re VERY partial to Skyline and will totally go off our TF diet to enjoy this whenever we’re back in town.
        This wiki doesn’t mention the pasta, but everyone I know would say that Cinci chili = pasta + runny chili (beans and onions optional) + mounds of shredded orange cheese on top

  5. says

    I have a lot of chili recipes that I alternate between, but I was going to post my fave black bean chili recipe on my blog this week. My favorite version is to do a vegetarian chili (just black beans) but the last time I made it I added ground turkey to please the rest of my family. I’ll come back and post a comment when I’ve posted it up.

  6. says

    Mmmmm I love chili! I prefer mine nice and thick with a good kick to it. Lots of tomatoes and meat and beans and SPICE. When I was a kid, my mom always added some broken up spaghetti which is very good. If you go to Food Network’s website and find Emeril’s recipe, that one is awesome. And here’s a tasty way to use leftover chili: pour leftover chili into a greased casserole pan & top with 1 batch of cornbread. bake at 350 until cornbread is cooked thru and serve with sour cream and cheese. yum!

    And of course, I am from Cincinnati so I love a 3-way or cheese coney from Skyline! But Cincy style chili is a whole other ballgame, but still delicious in its own right! Have you had Cincinnati chili before? There are lots of good recipes out there and it is a nice treat from time to time.

    I look forward to seeing the recipe you come up with in the future!

    • KimiHarris says

      Hi Emily,

      I haven’t heard of Cincinnati chili before. What defines it? I love your “using leftover chili” idea! That’s great!

      • says

        First, here is the Wiki page for Cincinnati chili:

        Cincinnati-style chili is very, very, very different from thick & chunky “Texas-style” chili. It is much thinner and the meat is usually boiled so that it is in very fine pieces. It isn’t tomato-y at all and has a sweet taste to it, with no beans in the chili. Many recipes call for cinnamon and even dark chocolate. People who aren’t accustomed to this type of chili often prefer to think of it as a spaghetti sauce of sorts rather than actual chili.

        It’s served mainly two ways: a cheese coney or a 3-way. A coney is a hot dog topped with the chili, chopped onions, mustard and finely shredded cheddar cheese. A 3-way is a plate of spaghetti, topped with chili and cheese. There are also 4 & 5-ways that include beans and/or chopped onions.

        Around here, there are two main competitors that claim to have the best Cincinnati-style chili: Skyline and Gold Star. Most people have a clear-cut favorite (usually depending on what they grew up with) and mine is Skyline, for sure! So if you’re ever in Cincinnati or the surrounding area, be sure to give it a try! Of course it’s not very “nourishing,” but I’m sure if you made it yourself with healthy ingredients, it would be much better for you. And now you know all about Cincy chili! 🙂

  7. Jen says

    I love chili – usually make it just with beans. Have been adding ground beef occasionally to please my husband! I make it up as a I go – will try and write it down sometime. I like to add some Chipotle tabasco sauce to it, I love the spiciness of Chipotle peppers!

  8. Loree says


    I found a great recipe for chili via 101 Cookbooks last year while glancing through the comments. Someone referenced a HARD ROCK CAFE Chili recipe and believe he posted it online (To find: Hard Rock Cafe Chili by Alphapotpie on Thu Oct 27, 2005 via 101 Cookbooks blog). It is so far the best recipe I’ve tried yet – as it achieves that depth I have never been able to get w/ any others. I just don’t put in very much chili as it is quite spicy with the called for amount.

    It seems the key is a combo of: BBQ SAUCE, SOY SAUCE (or tamari), WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE, CUMIN, brown sugar (I use RAPADURA, but think molasses might be a nice touch)…. Replace vegetable oil with a natural fat/oil, of course, and use your homemade soaked and slow cooked beans (maybe with lots of pork fat) instead of canned beans. It is also better when the chili simmers all day instead of the suggested hour or so: I can you all that Staub cocotte is very, very nice for this!! Worth every penny! A Le Creuset dutch oven should be nice as well – or any big heavy cast iron pot. I’ve found chilis tend to burn when using a stock pot – even the Le Creuset ones.

    I remember my mother always added some DARK BEER, which adds a nice depth as well. And who doesn’t like a good beer with chili?

    I’ve recently read about adding CHOCOLATE (like Mexican mole sauce) and plan to experiment w/ that addition to my chilis this fall and winter….

  9. says

    my son loves chili, even in a thermos to bring to school. i soak black beans overnight in whey and water, rinse in the morning,set aside. saute some diced onions, green pepper and fresh garlic until translucent. then throw in a lb or less ground beef or pork. maybe even throw in some diced carrots or summer squash if you like. cook until meat is browned. then add the beans back in, along with a can of stewed tomatoes (or better yet your own home canned tomatoes!), a few cups of water and let it simmer away for a good long while. for seasoning i use some good Hungarian paprika, a few teaspoons of cumin, freshly chopped garlic, onion powder, dried oregano and hot chilipowder to taste. i serve it with shredded chedder cheese, creme fraiche, fresh cilantro, and homemade buttermilk cornbread.

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