Beef Chili is a rite of passage in our house. A predictable way to mark the beginning of Fall and really start to embrace it. You know I fight that transition and hang on to every last bit of summer for as long as possible, but there comes a time (hello reality) when I must accept that cooler weather is here to stay.
For me, Chili is a “Fall” food and just reminds me of wearing sweatshirts, falling leaves and crisp air. It is the perfect bowl of warm goodness to help brush off the slight chill that comes with this time of year.
Beef chili is my go-to and since we don’t eat very many beans these days, I have been looking for a bean replacement that would give my Chili texture and bulk but not water it down like so many vegetables have a tendency to do.
A couple of weeks ago, my friend Rachelle shared a recipe she frequently makes for a beef chili with butternut squash from Bon Appetit. While this recipe is based off my Everyday Beef and Bean Chili and not directly related to the one Rachelle posted, it was her post that inspired me to start adding the Butternut Squash and playing with the flavor.
Thanks Rachelle because the butternut squash is the answer! It balances out the heat, adds just the right amount of bulk and texture and doesn’t water down the chili at all.
Because it’s important to me that this is a relatively quick dish to make, I highly recommend picking up a bag or two of frozen, cubed, organic butternut squash. This will save you a lot of time and make this a do-able weeknight dinner.
- Tip: When buying organic celery, it is usually priced per pound. You do not have to buy the whole cluster. You can just pull off two or three pieces and buy what you need for a recipe (as long as it is not pre-packaged). My mom hipped me to this – what a money saver!
- To save time, I used frozen, cubed, organic Butternut Squash from Whole Foods (365 Brand).
- As for spiciness, if you want this Chili MILD, omit the jalapeno, only use 3 tablespoons of chili powder and 1/8 teaspoon of the crushed red pepper flakes. If you want it MEDIUM, keep the jalapeno but don’t use the ribs or seeds. If you want it SPICY, use the whole jalapeno including seeds and ribs.
- If you think the ingredient amounts look large in my pictures, your eyes are not deceiving you. I was making a double batch (one for the freezer!) in these photos!
4 Points Plus Per Serving -- Individual Serving Size is 1 Cup -- Recipe Makes 11 Heaping Cups
10 minPrep Time
40 minCook Time
50 minTotal Time
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil or Beef Tallow (I like Fatworks)
- 4 to 5 medium cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 2 medium stalks celery, chopped
- 1 small jalapeno, chopped (see NOTES regarding spice level)
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 3 1/2 Tablespoon Mexican chili powder
- 1 Tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
- 1 cup broth (chicken, beef or vegetable)
- 1 red or green bell pepper, ribs removed and cut into 1/4" pieces
- 1 pound cubed butternut squash
- If you have a food processor, use it to save time. Place peeled garlic cloves and quartered onion in bowl of food processor fitted with the chopping blade. Pulse until chopped.
- Remove from processor bowl and add roughly chopped celery and jalapeno. Process until chopped.
- Clean bell pepper and cut in half. Remove ribs and seeds and cut into 1/4" pieces.
- Measure and combine spices in a small bowl (chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, red pepper flakes and bay leaves).
- If not using frozen, cubed squash, peel squash and cube until you have 1 lb.
- Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Once hot, add oil or tallow. Add in chopped garlic, onion, celery and jalapeno. Saute until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add in ground beef and use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up into pieces. Saute until meat is browned and cooked through (If you are using extremely fatty meat, you may want to drain the meat and veg mixture to remove some of the grease and return to pot).
- Next add in spices and stir to coat meat. Continue cooking for approximately one minute, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant.
- Add crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce and broth. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Once boiling, add chopped bell pepper and cubed squash. Partially cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 25 to 30 minutes. If you are using fresh butternut squash, you may need to cook a touch longer until it's tender.
- Remove bay leaves and discard. Remove from heat and adjust salt if necessary. Serve warm with your favorite toppings (shredded cheese, sour cream or plain yogurt, red onion, scallions, avocado, cilantro, etc.) and Enjoy!