Pumpkin Chili

I walked into Trader Joe’s and it was as if I had transcended Los Angeles and entered into October-land.  Pumpkin cream cheese.  Pumpkin scones.  Pumpkin coffee.  Might as well sell pumpkin spice toilet paper.  It’s like a pumpkin patch hayride you can’t get off of.


But I have to jump on the wagon (pun intended) because, let’s face it. What’s Halloween without pumpkin carving?  Sad, so sad. And what’s Halloween without pumpkin ale?  Depressing, that’s what. And what gives punkin’ its bright orange color?  It is loaded with beta carotene, a terpenoid hydrocarbon which gets converted into vitamin A in the body…yessir, the same thing you find in derrrricious carrots.


Well I thought I was being so productive.  I popped my pumpkin into the oven before my hike and figured it would be perfectly roasted upon my return…


 I got home, flung open the oven door, put that sucker on the counter, and gave it a quick stab with my knife.  The whole thing made this weird kind of gurgle sound, wilted, shrank, and then completely collapsed into the pan.  Needless to say, it was a multi-tasking kitchen fail.  Ya win some, ya lose some, I suppose.


Round 2 was considerably more successful…as I have discovered through self experimentation, it turns out the cooking times for pumpkins vary a lot and you really need to just keep an eye on it while it’s in the oven.

 I first concocted this recipe last Fall, pre-The Savvy Sweet Potato blog and I loved it so much, I had to bring it on back.  Sup, pumpkin chili. I missed you. This is such a creative and unique way to serve yummy chili; with each scoop of delectable spicy soup, a chunk of pumpkin flesh comes with it…and the combination is out of this world.

Ps. This recipe has a secret ingredient that balances the heat wit’ a lil sweetness 😉


 Pumpkin Chili

makes 5-6 servings of soup

  • 1 medium pumpkin, preferably with a flatter bottom. Kim Kardashian pumpkins, get outta’ here.
  • 1 15 oz can (or 1.5 cups cooked and drained) kidney beans
  • 1 15 oz can (or 1.5 cups cooked and drained) black beans
  • 1 15 oz can (or 1.5 cups cooked and drained) pinto beans
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup sweet yellow corn
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp *unsweetened* cocoa powder 😉
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (more if you like it on the spicy side…)
  • a couple splashes of soy sauce or tamari
  • salt, black pepper, and paprika to taste
  1. Begin by roasting the pumpkin.  If you’ve never done this before, don’t be scurrrred.  It’s so easy and the best way to scoop out the insides without all the arm work.  Simply stab the top of the pumpkin a few times with a large knife (gently…don’t get all 1996 and go Scream on it), place in a baking dish or cookie sheet with about 1/4-1/2″ water in it, and place in the oven at 425 degrees for….the amount of time really varies!  It could take as little as 30 minutes or as much as an hour and half, depending on the size and variety of pumpkin.  I would check on it every 20 minutes or so!  The pumpkin is done when it turns a darker color and when you poke it with a knife, the flesh feels like an old school r&b song…so soft and tender. Mmmm. Yes.
  2. When the punkin’ is cooked through, take it out of the oven and let it cool!  Sever the top off by just slicing it open and tearing it off.  It should be relatively easy, if it’s not, it may mean the pumpkin isn’t done yet.  Once the top is off, scoop out the insides (not the flesh, but the seeds and strings) with a metal spoon.  Try to get as much out as possible, being careful not to puncture the flesh too much. You can save the seeds and get crafty with them later; maybe roast them with some pepper & garlic salt…oooo look at you, all domesticated! Watch out.
  3. While the pumpkin is roasting up nicely, you can work on dat chili.  Begin by dicing the bell peppers and onions into small bite sized pieces and mincing the garlic really well.  Throw the onions and garlic in a large pot with the olive oil over medium heat and saute until tender and fragrant.  Then add in the bell peppers and cook until tender.
  4. While the veggies are sizzling, rinse the canned beans under cool water in a colander (skip this step if you cooked the beans yourself) and add to the pot along with the veggie broth, corn, and tomatoes.  Stir, stir, stir.  Stir until you feel like you can skip arm day at the gym.  Leg day, not so much.  That schmuck’s still comin’ for you.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil, and cook the soup for about 35-45 minutes until it’s nice and thick.  When it’s almost done, add in all the spices, soy sauce and cocoa.  Taste it and see if it needs more spice, salt, etc.  Hint: If it tastes at all bland, simply add salt…and then if it still needs more flavor, move onto the other spices!
  6. When it’s to your liking, take the soup off the stove and pour into the cooled pumpkin.  When serving, use a soup ladle and gently scoop out some of the pumpkin flesh along with the chili.  Garnish with seeds if you really want to impress your date. Or your mom. Or your cat, in my case. Aaaaaand, Happy Fall 🙂


  1. Leopard Mama Beans

    You really must try stand-up pumpkin comedy! The commentary in these recipes is often ALMOST as good as the taste!!! And where is the yummy pumpkin bars recipe you promised??? xo

  2. Julie O'Connor

    This recipe couldn’t have been choreographed any better, this was one one of the best meals I’ve tasted and healthiest. The taste is attributed to the fresh ingredients and the interesting composite of the spices, including the unsweetened cocos. Nothing needs to be added, nothing needs to be taken away…. Recipe is precision. Excellent job Cory Rith. Paired with The Bruery’s seasonal Autumn Maple brown Ale and the Trader joes Pumpkin Cornbread …..It’s a beautiful relationship….. In other words…. Food Coma

    • Julie, thank you! You are so sweet, I am really glad it turned out so well! Also, love the maple ale & pumpkin cornbread additions…YUM! 🙂 Thanks for reading!

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