Once autumn hits, I can’t wait to make a big pot of chili. It’s one of those perfect busy-mom recipes, because all you have to do is dump stuff into a pot and let it simmer for several hours until you’re ready to serve it up. And then, you have leftovers for lunch the next day. Chili is comforting, satisfying and relatively healthy – at least the chili that I make.
Here is where I need to be clear. I am talking about REAL chili, the kind with chunks of tomatoes and lots of beans. Check out my photo to see what my idea of real chili looks like. I’m sure my Cincinnati friends will be scandalized when I assert that the chili we have here–chocolate and cinnamon-flavored meat soup on top of spaghetti–is not real chili. At least it’s not what I grew up with, so I haven’t been able to develop a taste for it. Plus, I don’t think it would be as easy to make.
So for this post, I’m going to share my recipe for chunky, yummy chili a la Sara. You’ll notice there are no real measurements here – it literally is about dumping and eyeballing and tasting until you’re happy with the results. Ready? Here we go.
1. In a big pot or dutch oven, brown a pound of hamburger along with one or two coarsely chopped onions. Don’t like onions? Leave them out. Are you a vegetarian? Skip the meat.
2. Drain off any excess fat and return everything to the pot.
3. Dump in three or four cans of diced tomatoes, with the juice.
4. Dump in several cans of beans, drained. I like to use a nice variety of beans–usually red beans, kidney beans and black beans. I’ve even used chick peas before. Use whatever you like, no big whoop. (Just maybe not green beans…)
5. Dump in a can of tomato soup. You can add a little water, too, if you think the chili still isn’t soupy enough.
6. I also like to add a couple of squirts of ketchup.
7. Season with salt, pepper and chili powder – to taste. You can add a little cayenne, too, or red pepper flakes if you like your chili spicy.
8. Add more tomatoes if you think it needs it. Add more beans if you think it needs it. Add whatever you want until you like how it looks and tastes.
9. Cover and simmer on low, either on the stovetop or in the oven (if using a dutch oven) for as long as you want. I’ve left chili on for hours at a time. Just check it every now and then and taste and tweak accordingly.
10. When you’re ready to serve, top with cheese, sour cream and more chopped onions, if you like. For an even heartier meal, serve the chili over rice.