Gobble-It-Up Turkey Chili

Gobble-It-Up Turkey Chili
I know. like pain-in-the-ass minestrone (page 25), this recipe has a slightly daunting ingredient list. You’re probably already getting irritable, imagining yourself chopping five vegetables while the rest of your family happily watches Dancing with the Stars and eats popcorn.
However, also like the minestrone, this chili is a Miracle Food: everyone will eat it. Not only that, they will love it, request it often, and devour it noisily, which makes it worth the aggravation. Plus, this chili has the added advantage of providing your group with all kinds of healthy vegetables cleverly disguised as something delicious.  I go light on the spices here because my husband is anti-spice. Tom is also fiercely opposed to onions, garlic, and red peppers (and about eighty other vegetables). If you live with such a person, do as I do and cook this chili when he or she is not in the vicinity of your kitchen. Ignorance will be bliss; they will eat it right up in happy oblivion.  If you find yourself with extra patience on the day you make this (which seldom happens to me), make a double batch and throw one in the freezer. You will be so glad you did, say, next Thursday when Margie invites you to go bowling but you need to do a family pre-feed before you go.

Serves 8 to 10

  • 1/4 cup olive oil 
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups tomato juice 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 can (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes, with their juices
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Optional garnishes: 

  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Chopped onions,
  • Sour cream
  • Grated cheddar cheese


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, celery, and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes. 
  2. Add the turkey, chili powder, thyme, coriander, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne if you’re using it. Cook, breaking the turkey up with a fork, until the meat is browned and well combined with the vegetables, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Add the beans, tomato juice, broth, tomatoes with their juices, and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Bring the chili to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until it’s slightly reduced and the flavors are concentrated, about 45 minutes.
  4. Serve the chili hot, with the optional garnishes on the side.

Note:  If you have any energy left after all this, make a salad and a skillet of cornbread and you’ve got yourself a dinner! Now go bowling with Margie and try to forget the whole ordeal.


  • You can use just one kind of bean, if your family is confused by variety.
  • You also might want to adjust the spices. My family will eat nothing spicy, so I use less (or no) cayenne pepper. And if you don’t happen to have coriander on hand, don’t go rushing to the market, cursing this recipe and your life—just ditch the coriander.
  • You can also add more chili powder if your family is more adventurous than mine.


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