Pumpkin chili has been around for at least a few years. In the beginning of my awareness that such a thing existed, I thought, as I suspect many do, “Pumpkin? In chili? That’s weird.”
Then I tried it. Not half bad, I thought. Still a little weird, but also sort of perfect too. Perfect weird. A harbinger of fall, pumpkin, along with pretty much the best spicy, hearty dish to serve on a cold, frosty October evening? Not such a crazy idea, maybe.
So I worked on it. I tweaked and poked and made countless versions of pumpkin chili, all the while really coming around to this stuff. It’s so, so perfectly delicious.
I mean, the fact is, pumpkin and pumpkin spices – cinnamon and cloves – really do work in chili. Especially black bean chili. It all makes what’s already a cozy dish even cozier. And I love the body that the pureed pumpkin adds. Plus, with all the extra vitamin A the pumpkin brings to the table, it also makes a healthy dish even healthier.
Sometimes the things that seem the weirdest are the very same things that end up just belonging together.
Peanut butter and dill pickle sandwiches are another good example. No? Well, think on it. We might just talk about those someday too.
A note on heat: This pumpkin chili, as written, is very mild. If you prefer a spicier chili, you may consider doubling the chili powder, adding some cayenne, or chopping up a spicy pepper and adding it to the mix.
Slow Cooker Black Bean Pumpkin Chili
- 3 15-ounce cans black beans, drained
- 2 14.5-ounce cans plain diced tomatoes
- 1 cup pureed pumpkin (not pumpkin pie mix)
- 2 cups diced yellow onion (about 1 medium onion)
- 1 medium yellow bell pepper (diced)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
- Assorted toppings of your choice like avocado (cherry tomatoes, chopped scallions or onion, cilantro, Tapatio sauce (if you want to add some heat), or, if not vegan, shredded cheddar or jack cheese and sour cream (or try this vegan cashew sour cream - so easy and delicious!))
- Add all ingredients to a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir.
- Cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.
- Serve with assorted toppings.