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'Tis the Season for Pumpkin Chili! (And Whole Wheat Irish Soda Bread)


The official food of the month of November -- as prescribed by immutable, universal laws set down before time began -- is pumpkin chili. Incontestably so. 

"Your authority to make such a claim?" you may ask.
And I won't respond. 
Besides, it's obvious. Chili -- warm, thick, hearty; pumpkin -- spicy, earthy, colorful. It's a potent combination. 
There's no way to make chili look attractive. Recipe below!


This particular recipe starts as basic tomato-based chili, chock-full of turkey, beans, peppers, and onions. I diverged from tradition, however, in two key places. Aside from adding a can of cooked pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie filling, which is different), I spiced the chili with cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. My idea was that adding spices associated with pumpkin in its "sweet pie" form to a savory dish would be a playful way of suggesting pumpkin pie in every bite of spicy, hearty chili.
Much like giving a mouse a cookie, there are consequences to handing me a bowlful of chili. And so, of course, we had to make fresh, warm-from-the-oven bread to go with it. Jen and I didn't have the time or the inclination to wait for bread to rise, however, so we went with a great non-rising option: Irish soda bread. 

Eaten together -- or better yet, with chili slathered on thick slices of the soda bread -- this constituted a reasonably easy, quintessentially November food. It's healthy and pretty cheap too. There's really no downside.


Making the chili:

In a large dutch oven or stock pot, heat 2 T. oil over medium-high heat. Start by cooking 1 diced yellow bell pepper, 1 diced green bell pepper, and 1 diced medium sized onion until the onion begins to soften, about 6-7 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste, and stir semi frequently so the oil has a chance to bathe as much of the veggies as much as possible.

Next, we're going to "toast" our garlic and spices. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 t. cayenne pepper (you're allowed to get creative here and go with chipotle or other options, including fresh jalapenos), 1 T. cinnamon, 1/2 t. ground cloves, and 1/2 t. ground nutmeg. Cook, stirring, about 2 minutes.

Add your ground turkey, let's go with 1.3 lbs. (since that's the size in which it tends to be sold), and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned (about 5-8 minutes).


Reduce the heat to medium, and now add 1 28-oz can of diced tomatoes (no "Italian herbs" or junk and add the juices from the can), 1 15-oz can of pumpkin puree (again, not pumpkin pie filling), and at least 1 14.5-oz can of beans. It doesn't matter what type (I went with black beans for a little color variety) and you can add more cans to stretch the product, if you wish. Stir to combine ingredients, bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pot and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook as long as you wish; I think 45 minutes is good but you may need to stir now and then to prevent the pumpkin from settling.


By the end, you'll have enough well spiced, healthy dark orange chili to feed yourself, a friend or five, and still have leftovers. Well, I suppose that depends on how many friends you have.

Now for some awesome whole wheat Irish soda bread:


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Using a spatula, gently combine 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour, 1 1/2 c. all-purpose white flour, 1 1/2 t. baking soda, 1 1/2 t. salt, and 1 3/4 c. low-fat buttermilk. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and briefly knead (not too much!), then form into a circular loaf. Using a sharp knife, cut an "X" into the top of the dough and bake on a greased pan, 25-30 minutes.

You'll know the bread is done when it's golden-brown and makes a hollow sound when you knock on the bottom.


Enjoy, beloved readers.

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    This is looking very delicious stuffs as you write about their ingredients. I have never getting like that stuff before that is having these kinds of the ingredients on their recipe. This will be a different one for me.

Reader Comments (2)

Made a pumpkin (or butternut squash?) chili last year. I didn't use the tomato base, though. I pureed the pumpkin instead and used THAT as the base. threw some really finely ground coffee in there, too. Yum.

Soda bread is amazing

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichael Brundige

Interesting idea, RE the coffee. Did it mess with the pumpkin flavor at all?

November 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHungry Sam

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