Is Chili without Chili, Chili?

I’m talking about making chili without chili powder. Is it possible? I’m sure some foodies will strike me down for saying so, but YES. And in my home it’s the only way my husband will eat it, so that’s the way I made it last night.

Sure, I could make three separate meals (um, NO) since my daughter is now avoiding all meat, cooked tomatoes, and butternut squash, or I can make one batch of chili without chili to be served over brown rice and heat up some black beans (to be eaten with rice) for my kid. Or everyone can starve except for me. But then they’d be really grumpy, which would be annoying and I wouldn’t be able to enjoy my spicy chili anyhow.

Self-portrait at the Christmas tree farm. Cute, sure, but picky as anything.

Self-portrait at the Christmas tree farm. Cute, sure, but picky as anything.

It’s cold here in NYC people, like really bone chilling cold. Colder than last winter which was like a pretend winter, and I still hardly left the apartment (well, I did have a brand new baby). But I have no excuse now and in weather like this I require soups, stews, and chilis. Of course the spice factor would certainly help beat the chill, but I can always add some to my own bowl. Or just eat it boiling hot.

This recipe can of course be made with chili powder. Just add one teaspoon (or more if you’re into it) with the cumin.

You can also go vegetarian quite easily by skipping turkey and throwing in another can of beans. I’ve made it that way before with black and red. Very yum.

Oh, and you’ll notice there’s no onion. Toss in a small onion (diced) first thing and cook for a few minutes until translucent. Except if you live in my house where onions are outlawed. Yes, that’s right. You see what I’m working with here. Yet even without chili powder or onion, this chili – or stew, whatever – is really quite hearty and full of flavor.

Turkey Butternut Squash “Chili”

You don't come here for the food photography, I know. It tastes great, though, I promise.

You don’t come here for the food photography, I know. But it does taste great. Promise.


  • nonstick cooking spray, or a few teaspoons of olive oil
  • about 1 pound of lean ground turkey
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • about 20 oz (1 pre-cut pkg) butternut squash, or one small acorn squash cubed
  • salt and pepper
  • 1+1/2 cups of chicken (or veggie) broth
  • 1 28-ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 can of red kidney beans, or beans of your choice*
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin
  • 1 cup of frozen corn (optional)
  • cooked brown rice (optional)
  • garnish with greek yogurt or sour cream if desired


1. In a big pot, spray bottom or add a teaspoon of oil and then cook ground turkey over medium heat, breaking it up with a spatula, until no pink remains. Set aside in a bowl.

2. In the same pot, over low heat, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil and cook garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Then add cubed squash, stir to coat. Add salt and pepper. Then add broth, tomatoes, beans, and cumin. Stir and break up tomatoes a bit. Raise heat to medium and bring to a boil. Then lower heat and cover. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

3. Stir in the turkey and corn (if desired), recover, and simmer for another 10 minutes until squash is softened and chili is thickened.

4. Pour into bowls over rice (or not) and a dollop of greek yogurt or sour cream.

Then go make your kid something else. And your baby. Then go insane. Start all over again the next day.

I’m happy to have shared this post at the Gluten-Free Friday’s link up party hosted by Vegetarian MammaEat.Live.Make, and Gluten Freed R.D., and One Creative Mommy’s Gluten Free Monday link up. Click the links to find more great GF recipes.

4 thoughts on “Is Chili without Chili, Chili?

  1. I’d call this chili, especially with the cumin. I hear you about how challenging it can be to put food on the table that everyone will eat. My children won’t touch chili (Is that a tomato? This is too spicy! Can I have something else to eat?), which is annoying because my husband and I both love it.

  2. You are too funny, I love it…”I know you don’t come here for the food photography…” I laugh because each picture I put on my site I think that, however I am getting a little better! And I totally agree with the comments above. You are not the only one. Usually my younger one (the one with all the allergies) will at least try and usually eat whatever I make. The older one…well he’s quite picky. My husband….he’ll eat anything. So 2/4 or 3/4 eating what I made works for me! Rarely do I get 4/4 🙂
    Happy New Year!!

    Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂
    I hope to see you again next week!

    This week’s link up will be live tonight at 7 pm eastern time! We will have kicking this year off with a Gluten Free Giveaway! Better Batter has graciously offered to share some Brownie mix to one lucky person! Come share all your goodies! Remember you can link up recipes, review or healthy living posts! The more you link up the more chances you have to win!

    See you there!

    Cindy from

    • Thanks Cindy, that makes me feel a lot better! My young son seems to be less picky, but we’ll see… I know how quickly things change so I won’t get my hopes up 🙂 Thanks again for featuring my Peppermint Bark recipe! Hope you have a great weekend 🙂

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