Rejoice, for chili season has arrived, writes Amanda Stone. Globe | Amanda Stone

The weather is finally catching up to the calendar. It’s fall, y’all. Break out the cozy things and dust off the chili pot.

It’s also Maple Leaf Festival season, which goes hand in hand with fall, chili and all the warm fuzzy things.

Because COVID-19 canceled most of the fun last year, you’d think die-hard Maple Leaf-goers such as myself would be going full steam ahead this time around. I’m not. I don’t know if I’m apprehensive because there’s still a super-contagious virus going around or if my social skills are just really rusty. It’s likely both.

I did swing by the chili cook-off over the weekend. It was worth it. Seven chili chefs cooked all morning under a big tent at Central Park to give samples to the public, who would ultimately decide their fate.

Mum and I went ready to take notes, but in the end there was only one note taken. For us there was a clear winner, and I’m sure it was no coincidence.

I grew up eating the family chili, so for me, it’s the right chili. However, let it be said that much like pizza, all chili is edible chili. As we all do, I have preferences.

So if I get to pick a favorite chili, I will pick the chili that’s right for me, and it will have beans. There. I said it. I know it can be a real hot-button issue, but I will never understand why chili would just be a big pot of saucy meat. Unless someone doesn’t like beans. That is between them and God.

And if we want to get to the nitty-gritty details, I want veggies in my chili too. They make the chili go further, and they can disappear in the nooks and crannies of meat. I want riced cauliflower in there, adding it’s secret nutrition, and I want tomato bits too.

Really it comes down to how chili is such an ideal dish to make healthier. Grated squash and eggplant, chopped peppers, riced cauliflower and leaner meat are all ways to add some fiber and nutrition to what is often a beef-heavy meal. Chili is a great way to branch out. That’s all I’m saying.

Try these recipes. Branch out.

Healthy turkey chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 medium red bell pepper, chopped

2 teaspoons minced garlic

1 pound lean ground turkey

3 tablespoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1-2 cups chicken broth (depending on how thick you like your chili)

30 ounces petite diced tomatoes

15-ounce can dark red kidney beans (drained and rinsed)

15-ounce can black beans (drained and rinsed)

15-ounce can white chili beans (drained and rinsed)

1 1/2 cups corn (canned or frozen, optional)

Optional toppings: cheese, sour cream, cilantro, avocados, tortilla chips

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-heat. Stir in the onion, peppers and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions become translucent.

Add in the ground turkey and cook until lightly browned. Stir in seasonings. Next add in the chicken broth, tomatoes and beans. Add corn if desired.

Bring chili to a boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer the better.

Taste and add more salt and seasonings if desired. Ladle into bowls and top with your favorite toppings.

Recipe adapted from

Pumpkin chili

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound spicy Italian sausage

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to taste

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 15-ounce cans fire-roasted tomatoes, not drained

1 15-ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

2 1/2 cups chicken broth

Roasted pumpkin seeds, sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar cheese and avocado, for garnish, if desired

In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring to break into pieces, until browned and cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

Add the onion and bell pepper to the Dutch oven. Cook over medium, stirring, until softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cumin, chili powder, 1 teaspoons salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cinnamon. Cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Stir in the tomatoes, kidney beans, black beans, pumpkin puree, chicken broth and sausage. Bring to boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the flavors meld, about 20 minutes.

Season the chili with salt and pepper. Serve, garnishing with pumpkin seeds, sour cream, cheese and avocado, if desired.

Recipe source:

Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.

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Amanda Stone is a food and gardening columnist for The Joplin Globe. Email questions to or mail her c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.