Very Veggie Pumpkin Chili

pumpkin chili=larson

by Holly A. Larson, MS, RD

There probably aren’t many things more belly warming than a big bowl of chili on a winter night. I love chili, and as a dietitian, think that this is a real winner as a place to add heaps of veggies.

You should also know that I am a wee bit obsessed with pumpkin.

One nice thing about making a big pot of soup or stew is that you’re allowed to play with the recipe, use up what you have in your own kitchen and not worry too much about measuring.  Meat is optional here, there is plenty of protein and flavor with just the beans. Relax, throw on your favorite tunes and get ready to enjoy the feast!

Smoked paprika is a more recent discovery for my kitchen and I love the unique, smokey flavor that it adds. I also use chilies in adobo sause (a canned item found in the Latin section of your grocery store). If you’re not into smokey flavors, skip it!

Very Veggie Pumpkin Chili

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound ground lean turkey, beef or mushroom (or skip)
  • 2 16-ounce cans beans, drained and rinse. Black, kidney, garbanzo are all good choices.
  • 2 16-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups fresh pumpkin puree (or two 16-ounce cans)
  • 1/4 cup chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprkia
  • 2-4 cups stock, water or beer (I used low sodium chicken stock)
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, stems removed and leaves diced (or spinach, or skip)

Toppings: cheddar cheese, avocado cubes, pumpkin seeds, corn chips, sour cream, etc. 

  1. In a large pot,  turn on heat to medium-high and add olive oil. Stir in onions, peppers and garlic and saute until softened. Add meat or mushrooms and saute until browned.
  2. Add tomatoes, pumpkin puree, spices, stock and your leafy greens. I like thick chili, so I stuck with two cups of broth.
  3. Cover and bring chili to a boil.
  4. Remove lid, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for at least 20 minutes to meld flavor, but as long as you have. Taste and make sure you think it is awesome
  5. Enjoy a bowl with your favorite toppings!

Note: I am my father’s daughter in that I have his condition of fill-up-the-pot-itis. I can’t start cooking in a  large pot without filling it up. If you’re not interested in making a huge pot of chili, this recipe can easily be cut in half. However, this freezes really well in individual portions in ziptop baggies, jars or other containers.


Holly Larson

Holly Larson, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian and owner of Grass Roots Nutrition based in Oxford, Ohio. Holly’s favorite summer vegetable is a fresh tomato from her garden!


Twitter: @hollylarsonrd


Instagram: GrassRootsNutrition