Pumpkin Chili

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‘Tis the season for all things pumpkin! While most pumpkin recipes around this time lend themselves to desserts, some days call for something more savory. Made with fatty chorizo, sweet sugar pumpkins, smoky chipotle, and plenty of chili powder, this chili tastes just like fall. With a lingering warmth that seems to snuff out the cold while celebrating the brisk chill in the air, it’s the perfect recipe as the weather cools.  

What is a Sugar Pumpkin?  

Sugar pumpkins (also known as pie pumpkins) are a type of winter squash in the same family as acorn, butternut, and kabocha squashes. They are a bit sweeter and earthier than the others, but have the same fork-tender texture and vegetal flavor. Different from carving pumpkins, sugar pumpkins are the same variety widely used to make pumpkin puree.

Though they may look intimidating, sugar pumpkins are just as easy to cook as any other squash. They are delicious when roasted, but the pumpkin in this recipe cooks slowly in the chili, absorbing all the flavor as they become tender. Supplemented by pumpkin puree and roasted pumpkin seeds, this chili celebrates pumpkin from top to bottom.

Smoky and Spicy Pumpkin Chili

Chili is known for its rich depth of flavor, and this pumpkin chili recipe is no different. Using Mexican chorizo is almost like a shortcut to adding layers of additional spice to the pot. This fatty, flavor-packed sausage features spices and herbs like chile de arbol, cinnamon, oregano, bay leaf, and coriander (to name a few). As it cooks, its fat renders out and becomes a flavor-packed oil for cooking the vegetables.

This recipe goes heavy on the spice with chili powder used on top of poblanos, chipotles in adobo, and chorizo. Tempered by pumpkin and starchy black and pinto beans, the spice relaxes into a well-rounded, pleasant flavor.

Ready for Fall

Few things beat a steaming pot of chili while leaves fall outside and the air becomes crisp. Wrapped in a sweater and collected around a table ready for dinner, this big-pot Pumpkin Chili recipe fills the air with a warm, spiced aroma. It beckons for the season to start, in quantities large enough to share with loved ones. 

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Pumpkin Chili

Simmered slowly for a deep flavor profile, this Pumpkin Chili triples-up on pumpkin and features layers of spice from fatty chorizo and smoky chipotles in adobo. 
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword pumpkin chili
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes
Servings 10 people

Equipment

  • 1 large pot or dutch oven
  • 1 vegetable peeler

Ingredients

Pumpkin Chili

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound 80/20 ground beef
  • 1 pound Mexican chorizo
  • 4 teaspoons Diamond kosher salt, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 poblano peppers
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 2 chipotles in adobo
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 1 pie pumpkin*
  • 2 cups Libby's pumpkin puree
  • 1 15 ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1-2 tablespoons chili powder**
  • 4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
  • 6 cups beef broth
  • 1 navel orange

Garnishes

  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup roasted pepitas

Instructions

  • Before beginning, prepare the onion, poblanos, and garlic. De-stem and de-seed each poblano, then chop them into 1/2-inch pieces. Next, dice the yellow onion. Lastly, finely mince or microplane the garlic.  
  • In a large pot, add the olive oil and heat until shimmering over medium-high heat. Add the beef, chorizo, and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt, allowing the meat to slightly caramelize and sear before breaking it up. Brown the meat until cooked through, then remove it from the pot, leaving the rendered fat behind. Reduce the temperature to medium-low, then add the chopped onion, poblanos, and grated garlic to the pot, along with the additional 2 teaspoons salt. Allow them to sauté until tender, stirring occasionally, for approximately 10-15 minutes. 
  • While the onions, poblanos, and garlic are sweating down in the pot, prepare the chipotles in adobo and pie pumpkin. Remove the chipotles from the adobo sauce and roughly chop them. Next, cut the pie pumpkin in half (cutting just beside the stem), scoop the seeds out as you would a butternut or acorn squash, peel each half with a vegetable peeler, cut out the stem, then cut into 1-inch pieces. Add the chipotles, adobo sauce, and pie pumpkin to the pot, then return the meat to the pan. Lastly, add the pumpkin puree, pinto and black beans, chili powder, cumin, and brown sugar.
  • Increase the heat to medium-high, stirring the ingredients until coated in the spices and the spices are aromatic, about 2-4 minutes. Add the beef broth to the pot, bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the pot with the lid, and stir occasionally as the chili cooks for at least 1 hour and up to 2 hours.  
  • Once finished cooking, juice the navel orange directly into the chili and stir to combine. Ladle hefty servings into bowls, topping with the sour cream, diced red onion, and pepitas. 

Notes

*Pie pumpkins are commonly found in grocery stores during the early fall months. If you cannot find them, another winter squash, such as acorn or butternut squash, will work well as a substitute.  
**Adjust the chili powder according to your spice tolerance. Start with 1 tablespoon for a milder chili or use the full 2 tablespoons for a deep, pleasant burn.
This pumpkin chili makes 10-12 servings but in the event that you have excess, it reheats wonderfully and freezes well too. 
This chili is gluten free and nut free, and can be easily made dairy free by omitting the sour cream or substituting with a plant based alternative. 

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