It's that time of year again! The leaves are changing, the weather is getting colder and flirting with the idea of snow (I know! So cruel!), and you're finding yourself wanting to curl up with a thick blanket and something nice and hot and nostalgic to warm you up from the inside out. For me, that comfort food is chili, my Mom's chili. It was one of the relatively inexpensive meals that made a lot, so we had it when we could, especially in the fall and winter. I can't eat it without smiling, remembering the times we had it with extended family, especially when we'd eat it with my beloved late grandpa who enjoyed it with Sweet N' Low - a German tradition, I am told, which dictated that you are to eat anything with a tomato base sweetened (he was diabetic, so sugar was a no go), though I have not jumped on that bandwagon. :) It is my hope that this recipe (a slightly modified to be allergy-friendly version of my mom's) will become part of your favorite memories from now until the end of time.
This recipe is soy-free (if you use all soy-free ingredients), egg, fish, milk and nut-free, and can be wheat-free.
3 Cans soy-free Chili Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 Can soy-free Pinto Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 Can soy-free Light Red Kidney Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 Can soy-free Dark Red Kidney Beans (I recommend Bush's)
1 lb. ground chuck or venison
1 package soy-free Chili Seasoning Mix (I recommend McCormick's)
1 teaspoon Onion Salt (I recommend McCormick's)
1/2 teaspoon Garlic Salt (I recommend McCormick's)
4 shakes (or about 1/8 teaspoon) Celery Salt (I recommend McCormick's)
4 shakes (or about 1/8 teaspoon) Paprika
1 small can soy-free tomato soup
(I recommend Campbell's Tomato (original) because it's soy-free and I like the flavor best, but you can use your favorite soy-free brand or whatever brand if you don't need it to be soy-free)
1 can diced tomatoes (large or small can size is your call)
1 large can/bottle soy-free Tomato Juice (I recommend Campbell's Tomato Juice (regular))
1. Over a large stock pot, drain the chili beans and pinto beans; set the stock pot with the liquid aside and place the drained beans into a large bowl.
2. Drain both cans of kidney beans and discard the liquid, adding the drained beans to the pinto and chili beans and placing them in the fridge until later.
3. In a large frying pan, brown the meat and then drain it before returning it to the frying pan.
4. Add 1/2 to all of the package of chili seasoning (amount based on preference), onion salt, garlic salt, celery salt and paprika to the meat and mix well over medium heat; remove from heat.
5. Transfer the seasoned meat to the stock pot with the reserved bean liquid in it and add 1/2 to all the can of tomato soup, 1/2 to all the can/bottle of tomato juice and the diced tomatoes and bring to a simmer over medium heat; simmer for at least an hour, stirring frequently. (Note: The amount of soup and tomato juice you use is entirely up to you, though I recommend starting with 1/2 the can/bottle of tomato juice and saving the rest until step 6 to see if you want to add more. Also, the longer it simmers, the better, just make sure you stir it often so it doesn't scorch on the bottom.)
6. Add the beans to the chili about 20 minutes before you are planning on serving it, adding more tomato juice/spices, if needed. (Note: If the chili is too acidic, add a little sugar (a teaspoon at a time) until the desired acid level is reached.)
You can serve this chili as is or add your favorite chili toppings. Delish!
- Make Ahead: This chili is actually better the next day, so feel free to make it up ahead of time. Just do steps 1-5, and then after simmering the chili for an hour, add the beans and cook for 20 minutes. Allow it to cool some, then either transfer it to other containers or keep it in the fridge in the stock pot until ready for use. It should keep around 3 to 5 days. Also, you can freeze the finished chili in small batches that you can take out and heat up when you like. It should keep in the freezer for a few months.
- Vegetarian Chili: Leave out the meat. Skip steps 3 and 4, adding the seasonings to the stock pot with the liquids and go from there.
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