Pumpkin Chili – vegan & gluten free

I’m sorry I’m such a tease.

I posted on Instagram and then mentioned last week that I made a new kind of chili, and I’m just now telling you about it. Can we still be friends? Yes, you know what it’s like to go on vacation staycation and have it somehow disappear much faster than you can understand, and certainly faster than you’d like, and just not get everything done that you’d like to?

oh good, I’m so glad that happens to other people.

You want to forgive me and stick around because this recipe produces yummy, warming, comforting, stick-to-your-ribs, chili that is so quintessentially fall that you have to make it and eat it this week. Quick, before Christmas totally takes over both the real retail world and the blogosphere. (Pinterest already gave up) You’re going to make it this November, and then you’re going to remember it for next fall, because if you’re on top of it next year (which you are already, thanks to me), you will have at least two solid months of pumpkin pie pumpkins being readily available at the grocery store, which means you can make this one afternoon or evening, serve it for dinner, and then have lunches made for a week. You’re welcome.

Really, what more could you want? It’s easy, it only dirties the one pot, it keeps in the fridge for a week or so, it freezes well, it loves variation, it serves a myriad of diets, it’s got chunks of pumpkin in it for crying out loud…have I convinced you yet? Yes? Good. Bon appetit!

Pumpkin Chili – vegan & gluten free

Of course, as with most chili recipes, it’s easily customizable to what you like, what you have on hand, or some combination of the two. Instead of potatoes, you can sub in another root vegetable like turnips or parsnips. Ooooh! Or this would be a really fun place to use those great purple potatoes I get at the farmers’ market sometimes. Pick your beans, broth, peppers, spice levels, etc. I recently got some Miso Ginger Broth at Trader Joe’s that I’ve been putting in everything. If you’re not using a reduced-sodium broth, be sure to taste before adding any additional salt. Sometimes diced tomatoes are also quite salty- check the label.

Serves 8 to 10
3-pound pie pumpkin or other orange-fleshed squash such as butternut, Red Kuri, or Golden Hubbard
2 medium potatoes
1/2 cup olive oil
2 bell peppers, any color, chopped
1 large onion, diced
6 garlic cloves, minced (I used a garlic press)
2 tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups vegetarian broth (or water, or a combination of the two)
2 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes (I used one can plain, no salt added, and one can fire roasted)
2 16-ounce cans beans of choice, drained (I had pinto, so that’s what I used)
2 cups frozen corn
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Balsamic vinegar, to taste
Chopped green onions, to serve
Sliced avocado, to serve

Pumpkins are hard to peel because, well, they’re hard. To make it easier, cut your pumpkin in half, remove the seeds (save for roasting if you’re so inclined), and microwave each half cut-side down in a shallow dish of water for 5 minutes. Alternatively, you can roast the halves at 450°F for about 15 minutes. Peel and chop the potatoes while the pumpkin cools. When the pumpkin is cool enough to handle, shave off the skin with a sharp knife. Peel the pumpkin or squash and chop into roughly 1-inch pieces. (See my how-to for roasting pumpkin seeds here.)

In a large Dutch oven or soup pot (it should hold at least 6 quarts), heat olive oil over medium heat. If you’re anything like me, you will think this is a huge quantity. It’s not, it just looks like it at first. Soldier on.

Stir in the chopped pumpkin, potatoes, bell peppers, onion, garlic, and tomato paste. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes.

Add the broth and/or water, diced tomatoes, beans, and corn. Stir in the chili powder, cinnamon, and cumin. Bring up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for at least 1 hour, or until the pumpkin and potato are tender. As with most chili recipes, the longer it cooks, the better it tastes. If you have the whole afternoon to let it think about itself, your taste buds will thank you. Similarly, it tastes better the second day.

Before serving, taste and season with salt, pepper, and a dash of balsamic vinegar if you’d like. Serve hot with chopped green onions or avocado. If you eat dairy, feel free to top with shredded cheddar cheese and/or sour cream.