Hurray, It’s Meatless Monday! Pumpkin Chili Will Make You Fall In Love With Autumn and Forget Winter

by Jennifer A. Gardner, M.D. on September 30, 2013

What says fall more than pumpkins and chili?

With October just one day away, we got cooking in the kitchen and developed a great, hearty pumpkin chili to satisfy little goblins and big adults.

As is always true with chillies, one size (or recipe, in this case) does not fit all. Use this recipe as a starting point and consider your families' own preferences. Even within families tastes will differ, so season cautiously. It's best to serve chili with all of the seasonings on the table to finalize the heat and spice. If your family likes a more piquant chili, you will need to add a lot more chili powder than this recipe calls for (up to a heaping 1/4 cup). Alternatively, you could add cayenne pepper for a kick.

This recipe freezes well, so double everything and you will have a great meal in the freezer for a chilly fall evening! Just defrost in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the microwave or on the stove top.

Pumpkin Chili

Time: 30 to 45 minutes     Serves: 6 to 8


2 15 ounce cans pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2 large onions, diced
4 to 5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil or healthy vegetable oil
2 large cans (28 ounces) whole plum tomatoes, plus juices
3 15 ounce cans of kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 pound ground soy crumbles (optional, see notes below)
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons chili powder (or more to taste)
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or more to taste)
salt and pepper, to taste


1.  In a large sauté pan over medium heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until translucent and soft, about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and sauté 1 to 2 minutes more. Add the onion/garlic mixture to a large stockpot or Dutch oven.

2.  Spray the sauté pan with a little nonstick spray and brown the soy protein crumbles over medium heat just like meat. Add crumbles to the stockpot.

3.  Add the pumpkin puree, beans and tomatoes. Break up the tomatoes with your hands or use kitchen shears. Turn up the heat to medium and stir.

4.  Add the brown sugar, pumpkin pie spice, chili powder, and salt and pepper (to taste).

5.  Simmer covered (leave a small opening to vent steam), stirring occasionally, for 20 to 30 minutes.

Additions and Ideas
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger (add ginger when the garlic is sautéed)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • If you leave out the soy crumbles, you could substitute cubed sweet potatoes (just be sure to cook until fork tender, about 40 minutes depending on size of cubes).
  • This can easily be made as a traditional chili, with 1 to 2 pounds of ground beef, turkey or chicken.

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