This pumpkin chili with turkey and black beans recipe is rich, savory, and perfect for dinner on a cool late summer or fall evening.
My mom comes up from Charleston, SC to visit us regularly here in Greenville, SC. Not surprisingly, she’s also an avid gardener. (Both edible gardening and butterfly gardening, which can actually be the same thing.)
Last fall during her visit, she was shocked by the number of pumpkins and winter squash we’d harvested from our garden that were piling up on horizontal surfaces throughout our home. The floor near the front door, the breakfast room table, and our kitchen countertops were all accumulating dangerously high piles of heirloom pumpkins and winter squash.
Concern about a cascading pile of pumpkins falling on a cat or duck began to grow and we eventually moved the piles to our basement. One of the nice things about pumpkins is that they can store for a LONG time in cool, dark conditions (some varieties for up to two years!).
“What are you going to make with all these pumpkins?” mom asked.
“Whatever we can think of,” was my reply. I also asked mom to let us know of any good, new and unusual pumpkin recipes she could think of…
Pumpkin: the most versatile of foods
As we’ve written about in the history and folklore of pumpkins, pumpkins were originally domesticated by Native Americans (likely in Mexico) many thousands of years ago and quickly spread throughout the Americas as a staple crop. You can imagine how beloved this fruit (yes, pumpkins are technically a fruit) must have been.
When you don’t have a refrigerator or freezer or grocery stores, having a nutrient-rich food that could easily store throughout the cold months and be used whenever you needed them must really have come in handy.
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Since we do have a freezer, we’ll typically spend the better part of a whole fall day processing and freezing our pumpkins. That way, we have bags of frozen pumpkin pulp ready whenever we need them. (Read how to process your raw pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns.)
From there, our bags of pumpkin go into a wide variety of foods and drinks, from dinner to dessert — and even drinks! A new pumpkin recipe we’re trying this year: pumpkin champagne, courtesy of our friends Andrea and Tony.
Mom’s pumpkin chili with turkey and black beans
Mom returned to Charleston with some of our pumpkins in her trunk. We all promised to exchange any good new pumpkin recipes that we made with the pumpkin bounty.
Soon thereafter, we got a text message from mom bragging about a new pumpkin chili recipe she’d just made and how good it was. (The recipe also featured ground turkey and black beans.)
The next time she was up for a visit, we all made it together and loved it.
We’ve since made and modified this pumpkin chili recipe about five times since its maiden voyage last fall. We think we’ve now got it close to perfection (for our tastes) and ready to share!
We will add one important note before the recipe section: good food requires good ingredients. The more home-grown and homemade ingredients you can add to this recipe, the better. We also think it makes sense to use organic ingredients as much as possible.
Got your own pumpkins? Heirloom black beans? Homemade diced/stewed tomatoes? Hardneck garlic? Awesome – put them to use in this recipe!
Mom's pumpkin chili with turkey and black beans
A rich, savory pumpkin chili recipe chock full of all the best traditional chili flavors but with the added nutrition and flavor of pumpkins.
- 2 large yellow onions, diced
- 2 cups diced peppers we used a mix of fresh red and green peppers from our garden, some sweet, some hot
- 6 cloves garlic, diced
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cans diced roasted tomatoes two 15 ounce cans/jars
- 4 cans organic black beans (rinsed)
- 2 lbs ground turkey ideally you can find a good local source for ground turkey meat - if not, consider going vegetarian with this recipe
- 2 1/4 lbs frozen pumpkin puree
- 6 ounce tomato paste (1 small can)
- 3 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tbsp garlic powder because it's hard to over-garlic chili
- 1 tbsp onion powder because it's hard to over-onion chili
- 1 tbsp sea salt (or to taste)
- 4 tsp oregano
- 5 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp cayenne (or spice up to taste)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil for sautéing veggies
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp cacao powder this might sound strange, but it adds a very subtle and delicious depth to any chili recipe
Dice onions, peppers, garlic. Add onions and peppers (not garlic) to large soup pan with olive oil over medium heat. Cook until onions begin to turn translucent.
Add ground turkey and garlic. Cook until turkey is fully done.
Add all other ingredients, bring to boil for 5 minutes stirring to make sure no sticking. Then turn down to medium low heat (3.5 on our stove) and cook uncovered for 1.5-2 hours. Much of the water will evaporate providing a thicker, more flavorful chili. Tweak spices and salt as-needed to suit your tastes before serving.
Optional: we love garnishing our chili with the following ingredients: organic cheddar and/or pepper jack cheese, a dollop of organic sour cream, and fresh green onion or shallot leaves.
It’s now September here in South Carolina, which means it’s mid-90s outside and there’s a giant hurricane off the coast. Not exactly ideally conditions for eating a hot bowl of chili, but we’re eating our first batch of pumpkin chili regardless in the hope that doing so will magically turn the weather cooler and scare away hurricanes.
We hope you love pumpkin chili with turkey and black beans as much as we do!
More pumpkin articles you’ll love from Tyrant Farms:
- The history, origins, and folklore of pumpkins
- How to process and eat your incredible edible pumpkin (including jack-o-lanterns)
- Disappearing whole wheat spiced pumpkin pancakes
- Fall harvest coffee cake with pumpkins, apples, and walnuts
- Recipe: How to make Tony & Andrea’s pumpkin champagne