Harvest Turkey Chili

This next recipe is very unique, in fact, it’s so unique that the first time I saw the concept I almost turned away. It was a cool autumn day and I saw a recipe advertising Pumpkin Chili. I paused, clicked into the recipe, and thought, “No way. Who would possibly ruin chili that way?” I continued on my way, but an hour later the wheels of my brain were turning. You see, I love everything about autumn, but I especially love all the pumpkin creations that come out during the season. I quickly found myself navigating my way back to the website. I could see that many changes would need to be made to make the chili right for me, but I was inspired by it and decided to give it a shot. 

I know I haven’t convinced some of you yet, and believe me, I wasn’t fully on board right away either. In fact, when I went grocery shopping for ingredients I also picked up a frozen pizza just in case dinner turned into a massive fail. Luckily, it was not a fail at all! I made it exactly as called for at first; I decided I was correct that changes needed to be made, but walked away from it immediately creating a new recipe of my own based on the concept. 

Since my first time attempting pumpkin chili, I have worked on and changed this recipe probably about five times, but I believe I have finally found perfection. I also decided to name mine Harvest Turkey Chili, because turkey never scares people away from a recipe, but the word pumpkin often prompts people not to try the dish! Quite honestly, if a regular bowl of chili and a bowl of harvest chili were each set in front of me, I would pick the Harvest Chili every time. It’s that good. I hope I have convinced you by this point to give it a shot! 


1 lb Ground Turkey

½ heaping tsp Red Pepper Flakes

1 ½ tsp Minced Garlic

½ small Yellow Onion (About 3 inches in diameter) – Diced

½ large Green Pepper – Deseeded and Diced

1 can Bush’s Black Beans in Mild Chili Sauce

1 can Chickpeas – Drained

1 can Petite Diced Tomatoes

2 cups Water

2 tsp Better Than Bouillon Turkey Base (Chicken Base can be substituted if necessary)

15 oz Pumpkin Puree

1.5 less than level tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice

2 ¾ tsp Chili Powder

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Salt

1.5 tsp Crystals Hot Sauce (Tabasco can be substituted if necessary) 

1. One of the great features of this recipe is that it can be made completely in one pot. Normally the meat for chili needs to be browned and strained to get rid of the grease, but because turkey is a lean meat, the grease typically doesn’t need to be strained off before adding in the other ingredients. This is an element of the recipe that you need to use your judgement on though. Occasionally a batch of ground turkey can release a significant amount of grease, but that is a pretty rare occurrence. Start by cooking up the turkey. If it looks like more than ¼ cup of grease has been produced during this process than scoop some of it out with a ladle, but otherwise keep the minimal grease in the pot. It should cook off during the next step and have the added bonus of adding in additional flavor to the peppers and onions. 

2. When the turkey is cooked through, add in the red pepper flakes, diced bell pepper, minced garlic, and diced onion.

Kitchen Tip 1: The stove should be on medium high while doing this. Peppers and onions take some time to soften, and because you are working with leaner meat it could dry out before your veggies are softened if you cook it on too high of heat. I have to be especially careful of this because I chop and freeze my bell peppers ahead of time to make less trips to the grocery store to get fresh produce. This means that my peppers take a little longer to cook though since they have to thaw in addition to cooking.  By cooking it on medium heat, the grease has a greater chance of cooking off gradually while the veggies are getting soft. 

3. Once the veggies have been cooked through, add in the beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, and water. Out of all the canned goods, the chickpeas are the only element that need to be strained since the black beans have a chili sauce for extra flavor mixed into them. After these elements are incorporated together, the next step is to dissolve the bouillon in.

Kitchen Tip 2: I always keep three kinds of Better Than Bouillon in my fridge – Beef Base, Chicken Base, and Turkey Base. It is great at making all three types of broth, and it is much easier to store these three jars than cartons of broth in the pantry. It has the added bonus of having an expiration date that lasts a long time, so I can be sure that I have broth for any recipe that I may want to make.

4. Once the water and bouillon is mixed in the chili is going to look very liquidy, but don’t panic. Now is the time the pumpkin gets added in, and that is going to really thicken it up. Stir in the puree, all of the spices, and the hot sauce. It still might not look super thick right away, but don’t worry. Like most thickening agents, pumpkin needs to simmer a while before it does its job. Let the soup simmer on low for 30 minutes. Do not heat up the burner more than low or the thickness of the soup will cause it to start sticking to the bottom of the pot. Feel free to stir it occasionally during this time to check for that. After 30 minutes all of the flavors will be nicely stewed together, and the soup should be at the desired thickness. 

I like to garnish each bowl with a crumble of Tostitos chips, a dollop of sour cream, and a light sprinkle of cheese before serving, but it tastes equally great without garnish as well. I hope you are willing to look past the initial shock value of the ingredients and try this recipe. I promise it will be worth it in the end! For a perfect meal, combine this with my Jalapeno Cheddar Corn Muffins.

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