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Pumpkin Chili

A hearty chili inspired by harvest’s bounty.

October 24, 2016

Keep your trick-or-treaters well-fueled with a hearty chili that feeds a Halloween crowd.

Yield: serves eight 


  • 2 pounds ground turkey or chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and cut in small dice
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Secret Spice (recipe follows) or your favorite all-purpose seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 14.5-ounce cans petite diced tomatoes
  • 23/4 cups low sodium beef stock or broth
  • 1 15-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained


In a very large pan or pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add turkey, onion and poblano and saute until meat is cooked through and no longer pink, about five minutes. (We use a large electric skillet.) Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add all spices, including the cilantro. Add pumpkin, and tomatoes, then beef broth, stirring as you add in. Stir in the beans.

Bring mixture to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for at least 30 minutes, then remove cover and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Stir occasionally, taste and adjust seasoning.

Cook, covered, for up to an hour for even better flavor. Serve topped with a spoonful of shredded cheese and chopped cilantro, accompanied by homemade cornbread and a crisp green salad.

For leftovers, cook up some rigatoni or your favorite pasta and add a little shredded cheese for delicious chili mac.

Note: Pumpkin adds thickness (and nutrition) to the chili. We’ve found Natural Directions brand of organic pumpkin to be the most solid and least watery. Poblano peppers are mild, dark green, and are the chile of choice for rellenos. If you can’t find them in your market, substitute Anaheim or green bell peppers.

Secret Spice Mix
A mildly spicy blend that’s great on chicken, roast vegetables, even scrambled eggs.

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 3 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons granulated onion powder
  • 11/4 teaspoons granulated garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dry (powdered) mustard
  • 11/2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

Mix spices in an airtight glass jar and store in a cool area.