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Catastrophe Kitchen | My Best Friend’s Pumpkin Wedding Chili

By Salongo Wendland

This is the chili my best friend made the day before her wedding last October. One taste and I was hooked— I think it was the combination of the cinnamon and cloves, unexpected but somehow so fitting. It was also maybe a little because it was made by my bestie, HOWEVER, I made it myself at home and it was STILL delicious!

Make this when you want something comforting, delicious, spicy, and warming—it makes enough for a crowd or enough to freeze more for later. Oh! And it’s not just healthy, it’s also vegetarian. Which means you can make it when that one friend of yours comes over, and you’ll ALL enjoy dinner! It’s really SO good, you guys. Hearty and filling but not in that I-want-to-hibernate-afterwards way. It’s light enough that you can still move around and be a human after a couple of bowls.

I’ve only slightly adapted the recipe from

Pumpkin chili recipe

You’ll need:  

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 yellow, orange, or red bell pepper
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 jalapeno
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger
  • 4 large Portobello mushrooms (or 16oz. baby bellas or white mushrooms)
  • Spice mix (see below)
  • 4 ears of corn (or about 2 C frozen kernels)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pure pumpkin puree (NOT PIE MIX!)
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • 2 t vegetable bullion (or 2 C veg broth or 2 bullion cubes)
  • 1 beer (I used an Oktoberfest, but any malty beer would do)
  • 1 C water

Spice mix:

  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 t kosher salt
  • 1/8 t ground cloves
  • 1 t ground nutmeg
  • ¼ t cayenne pepper

Pumpkin chili recipe

Ready? Grab your biggest soup pot and get to chopping. Chop the onion, bell pepper, and carrots first. Heat your oil over medium-high heat and throw all three into the pot. Then get to your jalapeño: cut it down the middle, scrape out the seeds, and chop it finely. Toss that in the pot as well. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES AFTER THIS (or any other place you don’t want to burn like heck).

Pumpkin chili recipe

Give the veggies a stir, then get to your garlic and ginger. Chop them tiny (or grate the ginger and put the garlic through a press, I am not Anthony Bourdain). Then wipe your mushrooms clean with a damp paper towel (no dirt in the pot!) and chop them, too.

Pumpkin chili recipe

Once you’ve done that, the veggies should be getting vaguely translucent. Add the ginger and garlic and let them cook until you can smell them (about one minute), then add the mushrooms and give it all a stir.

Open up your cans and rinse the beans. Cut the corn off the ears if you’re using fresh corn. Once the mushrooms have released some of their moisture (they’ll look sad and brown and wilty, like the photo below), you can add the spice mix.

Pumpkin chili recipe

Give it a good stir, then add ALL THE REST—corn, tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, bullion, water, and beer. If you are using 2 C vegetable broth instead of the bullion, just skip the water.

Pumpkin chili recipe

Now you just have to clean up and let all the flavors meld! Cover the pot, turn the heat down to a simmer, and let it work for about an hour. Maybe have one of those Oktoberfests.

When it’s done, it will have transformed from a bunch of unappealing veggies in weird liquid into a warm, hearty, vibrant, and delicious DINNER!

Pumpkin chili recipe

You can serve it with sour cream and cheese and green onions, or you can just eat it in its unadorned and autumnal glory.

Pumpkin chili recipe

Happy one-year anniversary to my BFF!



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