Tracy's BASIC Chili Recipe (Can Make with Chili Mac and Cheese)
Based on My Mom's Original Chili Recipe
A big stock pot
A wooden spoon
Measuring spoons
Something to help break up the sauteing meat - I actually just use a hard, plastic spatula
Please note, this recipe calls for canned beans, not dried beans. If you are using dried beans, you will need to research soaking the beans overnight before even making the Chili plus the amount of dried beans that would equal the amount found in canned beans.
Recipe type: Comfort
Cuisine: Soups Stews Chili
  • 1 pound Ground Beef (80/20) or Venison Burger
  • 1 medium Onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 can Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup (a 10 and ¾ ounce can)
  • Water - use the emptied can of Tomato Soup to measure. More on this in the directions below.
  • 1 can Dark Red Kidney Beans (a 15.5 ounce can)
  • 1 can Light Red Kidney Beans (a 15.5 ounce can)
  • 1 can Black Beans (a 15.5 ounce can) or 1 can Garbanzo Beans (a 15.5 ounce can)
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons of Chili Powder, to taste - we love hot and spicy foods, so we tend to put in a lot of Chili Powder
  • ¼ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon Cayenne Powder
  • ½ teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon of Berbere Seasoning Blend (found at Penzeys here) - I LOVE this spicy seasoning and it really adds to the richness of the dish, but if you don't have it, you can still make your Chili.
  • Slightly secret ingredient: A couple of blocks of 100% Cacao, Unsweetened Baker's Chocolate (just a couple of pieces broken off a 4 ounce bar - not a lot)
  • A secret ingredient: A big scoop of creamy peanut butter (the kind with sugar like Peter Pan, not the unsweetened 100% peanut butter kind)
  • A couple of dashes of Garlic Powder
  • A couple of dashes of Italian Seasoning
  • Dash of Dried Parsley
  • Salt - small dashes / shakes to taste. Always start with a little and keep adding if you need to.
  • Pepper - healthy dashes / shakes to taste.
  • Optional: A dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream - on top of a bowl of Chili just before serving. I would not do this when you are making Chili Mac and Cheese, though.
  • Other Ingredient Ideas - I sometimes add to the pot while cooking, depending on the season and preference:
  • Variation: I've "upped" the amount of Cumin I've put in (see above), skipped the Black Beans, but used the Garbanzo Beans and added some Lentils. - Any Season, more of a Chili with an Indian flair!
  • A can of Diced Tomatoes - preferably from our garden - Any Season
  • Secret ingredient: 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon Powder (or even Allspice Powder) - Autumn / Winter (also particularly good if you are using additional Cumin and Lentils)
  • Secret ingredient: Dollops of Pure Maple Syrup, probably about just over a tablespoon or 2 - Autumn / Winter
  • A heaping cup of frozen corn - when I'm leaning towards a more Mexican-style chili - Summer
  • A small can of sliced black olives, drained - again, when I'm leaning towards a more Mexican-style chili - Summer
  • A small can of green chilies, not drained (I think they get lost in the mixture, actually) - Summer
  • Fresh, diced green pepper and / or sweet red pepper - Summer
  • Really, any peppers can make a nice addition. I loved adding my mild, red Bridge To Paris Peppers. Now I have dried cayenne hot peppers from the garden and I can add a little of that if I choose.
  1. Defrost your pound of Ground Beef or Ground Venison, if frozen.
  2. Assemble all of your ingredients. Mise en place.
  3. Chop / dice your medium Onion.
  4. Heat the Olive Oil in the pot over medium heat.
  5. Add your Onion to pot and stir. Saute until it just starts to get translucent.
  6. Add your pound of meat.
  7. Use your spatula or another tool of your choice to break up the sauteing meat into small pieces.
  8. Brown the meat completely.
  9. Tip: if you are using Ground Venison, you do not want to drain off the fat. Venison is pretty lean. However, I don't drain off the fat even if I am using Ground Beef. Fat = flavor. Plus, it's really not a lot. I wouldn't bother.
  10. Next: Time to pretty much add everything else to the browned meat and sauteed onions in your pot.
  11. Keep the stove on medium-low as you add the rest of your ingredients.
  12. Start with your can of Tomato Soup first. Scrape the can clean. Hold onto the empty can and set it aside.
  13. Add all of your cans of beans next. Add them straight from the can into the pot. I don't bother rinsing them, but you can if that's your habit. Many people do.
  14. Next, fill your soup can with lukewarm water and add to the pot.
  15. Now you can add ALL of the rest of the ingredients one by one, stirring as you go.
  16. Once everything is in the pot, bring to a light boil. (Not a roiling one if you can manage it.)
  17. Once the boiling has began, lower the temperature and simmer as long as you can.
  18. Stir occasionally to make sure nothing is burning to the bottom of your pot.
  19. Keep covered. To thicken the chili a bit (if you want), boil uncovered for a little while towards the end of cooking.
  20. Back in the day my Mom said: 40 minutes will do it - and that is fine. But to REALLY get those flavors working together in the pot, longer is better. Aim for at least an hour. I vote for a day of Chili simmering in a closed pot if possible.
  21. TIP: Once all the ingredients are cooking in the pot and the mixture is warm / hot, taste it. That's when you start playing with additional seasoning or spices if need be. Remember, you can always add, but you can't take out.
  22. TIP: Taste throughout the cooking. The flavors will change the longer cooked.
  23. REMEMBER: Spices age over time and lose their strength and flavor. Cook a lot with spices and you won't have that problem!
  24. I find Chili to be very forgiving. And you can definitely get creative. Just remember, with bold flavors and spices, start with a little and add from there - tasting as you go.
  25. Once the Chili is done... time to put it in pretty bowls for serving! Top with a dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream and serve.
  26. Other topping idea - if your Chili has a Mexican flair, top with crushed Tortilla Chips!
  27. OR.... make your Chili Mac and Cheese.
Recipe by Garden, Cook, Eat, Repeat at