Pumpkin, Beef, & White Bean Chili

On February 2, 2016

I first had this chili when I was at my friends Ryan & Hallee’s homestead for their yurt raising in November.  I’d never been to a yurt raising, let alone an anything building, but since I’m a person who says “yes” to life, I jumped at the opportunity to help.  My contribution was minor, I moved some beams and screwed some screws, but mostly asked questions and nodded vigorously as Hallee told me all about their plans for the land.  Nevertheless, I was famished when we finished and Hallee sent us on our way with mason jars full of pumpkin chili as a thank you for our “help”.

I didn’t get the recipe that day, just the gist: swap tomatoes with pureed pumpkin and throw in a bunch of extra spices.

A couple weeks later, I made a batch on my own one morning while I packed up my car for a road trip to Pennsylvania.  After the first savory spoonful I knew this was going to be a go-to recipe in my life.

Fast forward a couple months and the hot guy I was dating invited me over for a “soup date”.  I didn’t have to think twice about what to make…this.

He whipped up an amazing Bratwurst, leek, and parsnip soup with broth so buttery it made my eyes roll in ecstasy.  My chili didn’t come together as quickly.  After 45 minutes the carrots were uncharacteristically al dente (I blame the electric stove) and it needed another sprinkling of salt at the end (it’s hard to cook in someone else’s kitchen!).  The shame of being a pro and possibly having an inferior soup made me stress sweat a little.

Luckily, his neighbor (who would become our soup judge) was running behind schedule.  I suggested we turn on some tunes, so we danced to Otis Reading and looked at design books in the next room while the chili flavors married in the kitchen. When it was time to eat I had his soup first, and it was heaven.  But when the meal was over the tally of bowls consumed was 3:5.  I won.

Here’s how to make this award winning, appreciation showing, road trip worthy chili.  It’ll probably become a go-to for you too.


Pumpkin, Beef, & White Bean Chili

Serves: 6-8
Time: 1 hour
Supplies needed: 1 large soup pot with lid, can opener

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves (optional)
  • 1 lb organic ground beef (15% fat)
  • 1 15-ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can organic pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup beef stock or water
  • 4-6 carrots, chopped
  • 1 head of kale, deveined and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons chili flakes
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1  teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • Salt, to taste


Heat oil in a large pot.  Add diced onion and sauté until golden brown, add garlic (if using) and continue sauteing for another 1-2 minutes.

Add ground beef, break it up using a wooden spoon or the back of a fork.  Sauté until cooked through, about 5 minutes.

Add beans, pumpkin, liquid, carrots, and spices all at once and mix well.  Do NOT add the kale at this point!

Cover and reduce the heat to low.  Let the chili simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Taste the chili to see if it needs any additional salt or seasoning.

Mix in the kale and let the chili simmer, covered, for an another 15 minutes.

*This is great made ahead also great served with rice. Store extra servings in the freezer for an easy weeknight meal.


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