It doesn’t take much to get me in the mood for chili. A cool breeze, a craving for cheddar, football season. So, as soon as the boots come out of the closet on the first day of fall, I pulled out the pot and started the grocery list for my mom’s chili.

One of the great parts about making chili is that you can tailor it to however you like. Hate zucchini? Leave it out. Not spicy enough? Sprinkle some more cayenne pepper on. Vegetarian? Try seitan.

Plus, it’s cheap to make and lasts throughout the week (and freezes really well).

Below is the adapted recipe I received from my mom. I have doubled the veggies. Make it however you like. Remember to start easy on the spices, and then add more to your taste. Once I was feeling a bold and plopped two tablespoons of cayenne in right away, and my tongue was on fire for a week. Don’t do that.

This recipe yields enough for you to have a few people over for dinner, and still have enough for a couple lunch and dinner servings later in the week. So call up that friend you’ve been meaning to make plans with and ladle up.


  • 1 lb ground turkey (or beef, or seitan, or shredded chicken)

  • 1 large green or red pepper, chopped

  • 1-2 zucchinis, chopped

  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced

  • 1 cup yellow onion, chopped

  • 2-4 scallions, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1-2 tbsp chili powder

  • 1-3 tsp cumin

  • 1-2 tsp cayenne pepper (to your taste)

  • 2 tbsp chilis in adobo sauce

  • 1 28-oz can crushed tomatoes with purée

  • 1 15-oz can tomato sauce (or more, depending on veggie ratio)

  • 1-2 15-oz cans kidney beans, rinsed (or black beans)

  • 10-oz bag frozen corn, thawed

  • Sharp shredded cheddar cheese

  • Sour cream


  1. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat

  2. Add ground turkey, onion and garlic, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and cook meat until browned

  3. Add mushrooms and peppers, and sauté 3-5 minutes

  4. Stir in chili powder, cumin, cayenne, chilis in adobo sauce (and any other spices you’d like to add)

  5. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato sauce, then turn heat up to a boil

  6. Once boiling, carefully stir in beans, zucchini and corn and stir for 2-3 minutes

  7. Taste your chili! Assess what it needs more of and add it in accordingly

  8. Ladle into bowls and top with scallions, cheddar cheese, sour cream

Food For Thought:

  • Add jalapeños at step 2 for more spice

  • Add poblano peppers at step 3 for a smoky element

  • Add avocado at step 8 for healthy benefits and to counter spiciness

  • Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream for a healthier twist

Source: Jamie Harbron, Prosciutto Happiness | Inspired by Nancy Wellinger