When the season’s change and temperatures drop, it’s time to add more hot comforting meals to the dinner menu. For many people, a hot comforting meal at the end of the day can be a great stress reliever. Soups, stews, pasta, are all great things to serve in the fall and winter months. But for me, there’s nothing more satisfying on a cold day than a piping hot bowl of chili. There is, of course, a myriad of ways to make chili, including with or without meat and with or without beans.
Standard Chili Ingredients
- Ground beef
- Tomato paste
- Chopped Tomatoes or Italian Tomato Sauce
- Kidney Beans (dark and light)
- Chopped Green Pepper
- Chopped Onion
- Chili Powder
- Salt and Pepper
- Additional spices to taste such as oregano, basil, paprika, cumin, cloves
Types of Chili
Chili is such a favorite dish and it’s popular in so many different areas. The best thing about chili is that it’s so easy to feed a large group without doing a lot of extra work. It also tastes great as reheated leftover so there’s no worry about making too much to eat in one sitting.
The other great thing about chili is that it’s a simple, casual meal but it’s very easy to dress it up for more formal occasions. Root vegetables are plentiful in the fall and can make a great addition to virtually any type of chili. There are now a wide variety of chili recipes to suit just about any palate or dietary lifestyle.
For a great vegetarian chili, keep the onion, chopped green peppers, and tomatoes and add carrots, celery, and a hearty vegetable broth in place of tomato sauce. Take out the ground beef of course. Add fennel and substitute lentils, pinto beans, black beans, or black-eyed peas for the kidney beans, add chunks of sweet potato, and top with avocado cream or slices of avocado.
You can create a great-tasting meatless chili by skipping the ground beef and adding additional vegetables instead. Corn, green and red peppers, and Mexican stewed tomatoes or any of your favorite veggies. If desired substitute chili beans and black beans for the kidney beans. A bit of chunky salsa, sour cream, and shredded cheddar cheese make the perfect toppings.
White Bean Chili
For those who don’t relish the taste of dark beans, white bean chili is a good alternative. This chili uses cannellini beans, white hominy, and chicken broth instead of tomatoes and kidney beans. For best results, forgo the ground beef in standard chili recipes and use ground turkey or chicken instead.
Inspired by the traditional Cuban picadillo dish, this chili includes ground beef and tomatoes but adds poblano chills infused with cinnamon and cumin. Serve the whole thing over rice and sprinkle with your favorites such as currants and toasted almonds.
Mediterranean Chickpea Chili
For those looking for an alternative to a chili with red meat, there’s Mediterranean chickpea chili. A Mediterranean diet is a terrific plant-based choice for anyone who needs to lower blood pressure or reduce the risk of heart disease or diabetes. Garbanzo beans or chickpeas pack the protein punch in this high fiber chili. Those who don’t tolerate lactose well will fare better with the reduced amount of lactose in Feta cheese.
Other Things to Serve with Chili
In most cases, chili is pretty satisfying on its own but if you’re wondering what to serve with chili, here are some recommendations:
- Piping hot cornbread with or without butter
- Corn Chips (Fritos)
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
- Saltine or Ritz Crackers
- French Fries or Onion Rings
- Rice Pilaf
- Guacamole with Tortilla chips
- Cucumbers with sour cream and dill
- Southwestern style Romaine lettuce salad with toasted pumpkin seeds and your favorite veggies topped with
- Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette dressing.
- Fried Pickles and your favorite dipping sauce
- Soft Pretzels
- Traditional Cole Slaw or a Fennel and Raw Beet Slaw
- Chex Mix or your favorite sweet and salty trail mix
- Serve over rice or spaghetti or combine with macaroni noodles.
- Just about any kind of cheese will add to the delectable taste. Common cheeses are shredded cheddar,
- Shredded Colby jack, parmesan or sour cream.
- Slice radishes or diced canned green chilies are great for adding a little kick.
- Applesauce provides a cool refreshing break between bites of spicy chili
- Any really tasty bread is great too
Beverages to Serve with Chili
When it comes to what beverages to serve with chili you have a lot of different options there as well. Of course, the beverage you choose will depend on the type of chili you make and the age and taste preferences of your guests:
- Iced tea with lemon
- Red wine or Dry Rose wine
- Margaritas with tequila and lime
- A tequila-based drink like the Paloma
- Ice cold beer with a sweet caramelly taste or apple flavor
Desserts to Serve with Chili
Just in case your guests aren’t completely full after devouring your chili, prepare the perfect dessert to serve with your chili to top it all off. For traditional chili recipes serve something dark and rich such as brownies or chocolate cake or even something simple like flavored yogurt topped with sliced strawberries.
For white bean or vegetarian chili, try pairing it with something sweet and delectable such as a blackberry pie or peach cobbler. For chili with a Mexican flair, consider sticking with the theme and serving traditional empanadas, flan, or even a sweet corn pudding.
No matter what type of event you have planned or which type of chili you decide to make for your guests, it’s pretty hard to disappoint. With all the different choices in chili recipes, it’s not difficult to make a decision about what to serve with chili that will both suit your preferences and appeal to your guests. Whether your guests crumble the sides into their chili, sprinkle it on top, or just alternate bites to cool their tongues, it’s all good to the last bite.