Chili Recipe

When it comes to chili, people can get rather passionate. Texans insist that real chili doesn’t contain beans. Cincinnatians agree on that point, but then go and commit “chili sacrilege” by seasoning their peculiar version with cinnamon and then dumping the whole mess on top of buttered pasta!

There’s a famous place here in DC that makes huge batches of spicy red chili for the sole purpose of slathering it on half smokes. They even have a stand at Nat’s Park. Nothing more American than a “Ben’s Chili Bowl” half smoke, a cold beer, and baseball!

Wherever your tastes in chili lie, it’s a hearty meal that will warm you up in the dead of winter or spice up a Fourth of July cookout.

Unfortunately, many people on low-carb eating plans think that since chili usually contain beans, that it’s a forbidden dish. I’m not sure which low-carb diet plan forbids legumes. Atkins? Paleo? Sorry, I seem to have misplaced my low-carb diet plan scorecard.

Beans are a great source of protein as well as a natural source of soluble fiber, something which is quite important when eating a lot of animal protein and cutting out most grains. I’m sorry, but there’s just not enough lettuce and broccoli to make up for the lack of bulk in the typical low-carb diet.

That’s why I suggest the use of fiber supplements such as Metamucil. Beans can help pick up the fiber slack in your diet and if you’re a vegan attempting to do low-carb, then beans should be an important part of your diet in order to round out the protein portion of your macros. My wife makes a vegetarian version along side my “chili con carne.”

I enjoy homemade chili year round, but really get into it when there’s snow on the ground.

Chili occupies sort of a no-man’s land between a soup and a stew. And for that reason, I like my chili on the “wet” side. My version borrows a pinch of cinnamon from the Cincinnati version and some of the seasonings typically used for beef stew — another hearty wintertime meal.


3-4 servings

  • 1lb ground beef (85% lean)
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 3/4c sweet onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp cooking oil – preferably canola (don’t recommend EVOO or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp (or more) chili powder
  • 1 tsp (or more) cumin powder
  • 3 large bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 15oz cans kidney beans (dark or light or one of each for color variety)
  • 1 150z can Hunt’s tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tomato sauce can of water


  1. Dump both cans of kidney beans into a colander. Rinse thoroughly with cold water to remove bean slime.
  2. Heat 1Tbsp cooking oil in large sauce or stew pot. To this add chopped onions and bell pepper. Saute on medium heat until vegetables are soft. Add minced garlic and stir until garlic is pungent. Don’t let garlic brown.
  3. Add beans and tomato sauce and 1/4c water. Lower heat to simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 1Tbsp cooking oil in large skillet and brown ground meat. Season with some black pepper, salt, and dash of cumin powder. The meat doesn’t need to cook through. It will finish cooking in sauce pot.
  5. Using a slotted spoon transfer ground meat to sauce pot. Optional: add about a tablespoon of grease from skillet to sauce pot for beef flavor and a touch of greasiness.
  6. Season chili with salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin powder, oregano, bay leaves, and cinnamon.
  7. Stir chili and add a touch more water so that the chili can “stew down” while simmering. Bring to boil and then let simmer for 1 hour without a lid.
  8. Ladle into large soup bowls and use topping suggestions below.
  9. This recipe makes 3-4 servings. You can freeze the leftovers in a plastic carryout container for quite a while. Defrost 24 hours before reheating. I like to add a tablespoon or two along with some Worcestershire sauce to reconstitute the wetness. This also makes a great meal to take to work or school. Simply reheat in the microwave.

Topping Suggestions:

  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Chopped fresh or pickled jalapenos
  • Sour cream

Chili Trivia:

  • Legend has it that chili got its start on the streets of San Antonio, TX. Mexican women cooked it up and served it to the locals. Town officials eventually banned these vendors citing “health” reasons.
  • 5-Way Cincinnati Chili consists of: beanless chili served over vermicelli pasta, and topped with shredded cheddar cheese, chopped onions, and jalapeno peppers. Sorry, no Cincinnati Chili for you!
  • Texas Chili is made without beans, as any good Texan will be sure to remind you!