Easy Weeknight Chili

This is an easy chili because you just have to chop a little onion, green pepper, and mince a clove of garlic and the rest is just putting things into the pot. It has a clean chili flavor without being very spicy. Red kidney beans are the requisite addition, but of course you could substitute any bean. I once had an amazing chili that had all three colors of peppers in it, four different kinds of beans along with celery and corn….it was delicious but for one serving you really want a more pared down recipe.

This week I worked remotely, but it’s Friday night and I’m tired, not really in the mood for a lot of cooking. It’s also the first day of October, so the first feel of fall is in the air. I am perfectly in the mood for a bowl of chili. I have a lot of the ingredients for this recipe waiting in the freezer – a third pound of ground beef in a ziploc bag, half a can of chopped tomatoes in a ziploc bag, a tablespoon of tomato paste waiting frozen in a piece of parchment paper, and half a cup of beans portioned out and frozen in a little snack sized ziploc bag. So, I just pulled all these things out earlier today and let them defrost in the fridge. Since I had to do laundry this evening, I also had the onion, green bell pepper and garlic chopped ahead of time and waiting for me in a covered bowl in the fridge. So at 7pm it really was just a matter of throwing everything together.

The carbs for this meal come in the topping, so I usually top this with lots of tortilla chips, and a few dollops of sour cream. I will also top it with avocado chunks doused in lime juice if I have it. You could also serve with a corn muffin, since cooking off a whole pan of cornbread is challenging for one person and during the week. I just discovered corn cakes you can pop in the toaster oven, which I found in the section with the English muffins, and that’s what I used as a carb tonight.

Easy Weeknight Chili

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/3 lb ground beef

1/3 cup chopped onion

1/3 cup chopped green bell pepper

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp salt

Several grinds of black pepper

Pinch red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 cup canned chopped tomato

1 cup water or beef stock

1/2 cup red kidney beans

Toppings: sour cream, avocado, lime, tortilla chips or corn muffin


Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat and add the ground beef. Cook while breaking up with a spatula until all beef is browned. Drain fat if needed. Add chopped onion, bell pepper and minced garlic and cook another 5 minutes until softened.

Stir in the chili powder, basil, salt, black pepper, red pepper flakes and tomato paste. Stir in water, chopped tomato and beans.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for 25 minutes until thickened. Stir occasionally, making sure chili doesn’t scorch on the bottom.

Serve topped with sour cream, tortilla chips, your favorite toppings or with a corn muffin.

1 serving

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