Chili Soup is a cold-weather staple with many variations: ground beef or shredded, with different types of beans, white chicken versions. Years ago when I moved to Colorado, I learned that “chili” does not mean the same thing as it did in my home town. Here, it’s often green chile or pork green chile to serve on burritos. Red chili with pinto and kidney beans and ground beef is my version of chili. It goes with corn bread, cinnamon rolls, hot dogs, and snowy nights.
School Lunch: Chili Soup and Cinnamon Rolls
Speaking of cinnamon rolls, did anyone else grow up with chili soup and cinnamon rolls as a weekly occurrence on the school lunchroom menu? Or was that a Nebraska thing? I have heard discussions about it on Facebook among my former classmates. I remember dipping pieces of cinnamon roll into the thick school chili. Mmmmmm.
This recipe works any time, but it’s a great weeknight go-to for a quick meal. All of the ingredients should be on your pantry shelves. My mom and I are known to find good deals on canned chili beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and canned tomatoes. In the “good old days” a mere 20 years ago, we used to get them for 25 cents a can. I wish! If we happen to get lucky and find 2 or 3 cans for a dollar, we stock up to get us through the year!
It’s both smart and easy to keep browned ground beef on hand in the freezer. Get a package of at least 6 pounds and cook it up with diced onion, salt, and pepper within 24 hours of purchasing it. Nothing is so satisfying as having a freezer with 6-10 packages of neatly labeled “cooked GB”! When it comes time to use it for a recipe, you just pull one out and put it in the fridge. Even if you forget to thaw it, ground beef can be thawed in the microwave and finished in the sauce pan as you begin cooking your chili.
Chili Soup Year Round
Chili is perfect for cold nights, holiday soup suppers, or coming in from shoveling snow. It’s also great in the summer to go with grilled burgers or on its own. This versatile soup can be the main course or a side dish. My husband has a coworker who says (or used to say, when working at the office was a thing before working from home), “It’s a chili kind of night. I bet your wife is making chili tonight, Richard!”
It’s super easy to pull this together, even when time slips away and supper needs to be on the table in 20 minutes, it can be done. A side salad or some warmed rolls make it perfect.
Making Chili Thick
Start with ground beef. Whether you are cooking it up from the package or taking pre-cooked out of your freezer, make sure it is all broken up and warmed in your medium-sized soup pan. Then add flour, chili powder, salt, pepper, and sugar. Make sure to cook it a good 1-2 minutes to cook off the starchy taste of the flour. Measure a cup of water and add just a little bit if meat and spices are sticking to the pan at all. This base will help the liquids that are added get thickened and give your chili a hearty texture and flavor.
That’s the work. Now, just open and dump all of your cans into the pan, and let it simmer for 5 minutes or an hour. If you’re holding dinner for a while, make sure the heat is very low. Stir it every once in a while to make sure you don’t burn it.
That’s all. Kind of like the Rice Krispie treat commercial where the woman smudges flour onto herself to look like she’s been working hard on the treats. This is really that easy.
- 3/4 to 1 lb ground beef browned and drained
- 2 T flour
- 1 1/2 T chili powder
- 1 T sugar
- 1 t salt
- 1/2 t pepper
- 15 oz chili beans
- 15 oz kidney beans drained
- 15 oz pinto beans drained
- 15 oz diced tomatoes keep juice
- 12 oz water
- Brown ground beef and drain off any excess grease. Add flour, chili powder, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir in thoroughly and cook for a full minute, adding just a bit of water to prevent sticking.
- Add tomatoes, all cans of beans, and water. Stir to combine. Simmer.
Yummy recipe!! We think chili is something that can be eaten two or three times a month! Or even two or three days straight if the cook at your house is needing a little break from cooking.😊
That’s why we’re always on the hunt for sales on canned goods!