The Boastful Baker

because every cook praises her own broth

I've cast my vote…for beans in my chili.


beef & bean chili

For some reason, I feel compelled to write about chili before I write about all of the other things I’ve cooked lately. I think it’s probably the cold, breezy weather we’ve had for the last week. It’s definitely soup weather.

Chili seems to be one of those foods that people are a little particular about.

Whether the chili has beans or no beans seems to be the largest concern. Some people (mostly those that hail from Texas, in my experience) are very anti-bean. Their chili is essentially a bowl of spicy sauced meat. I’ve nothing against meat or sauce (or even spice) but my chili needs to have more. Yes, I sit on the pro-beans side of the fence. This should not be a surprise since I’m not from Texas. Nor have I ever been anywhere near Texas. I do not want to eat a bowl of chili without beans. In my book, it’s not chili if it doesn’t have beans.

I think that how you like your chili depends a lot on what kind of chili you grew up consuming. Some people (again, those from Texas mostly) will scoff at the thought of adding a lot of chopped vegetables and beans to their chili because that’s not what their parents made. I, on the other hand, grew up eating chili with lots of onions and celery and beans…I think there might have been green peppers as well but I’ve blacked that out as I hate green peppers. I’ll pick around them in any form in any food. I digress.

I’m also a little picky about chili. I will eat other people’s chili but I don’t think they ever compare to my own chili. My sister held a chili cook-off last weekend. I didn’t make chili (as I was too focused on making dessert) but I ate chili. The four chilis at the party were all good but none of them compare (in my mind) to my chili. I’m so full of myself that I’m pretty sure I would have won had I made chili.

The recipe I’ll add below is only a rough approximation of what I put into the chili pictured here. This is because I’ve never made the same chili twice. I’m not sure anyone in the world has ever made the same chili twice. Even if I added exactly the same amount of spice each time, I think it would taste a little different. I make my chili just a little bit spicy and I add a little sugar to offset that heat.

So, here’s a list of what I put in my chili and some basic directions. Use steak instead of ground beef if you prefer. Skip the celery if you don’t want it. Adjust the spices to your own personal taste. Just make sure you add the beans. You’ve gotta have them (if you’re not from Texas).

You should also make more chili than you plan to eat in one sitting. It’s one of those foods that without question tastes better the next day. Even when I was staunchly anti-leftovers, chili made the cut.

Credit for the basis of this recipe goes to my dad. I make my chili mostly like he makes his chili. I’ve taken a few creative liberties over the years but it’s pretty much the same chili he made in my childhood.

beef & bean chili

Beef & Bean Chili


  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, chopped
  • 2-3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles or jalapenos
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 cans dark red kidney beans
  • 2 cans diced fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
  • water
  • 1 can tomato paste


1. Brown beef. Drain and rinse well.

2. Saute garlic, onion and celery until soft in olive oil in a large soup pot.

3. Add all remaining ingredients except tomato paste.

4. Add water to nearly cover ingredients in pan.

5. Bring to boil.

6. Reduce to a simmer and cook for at least an hour.

7. Add tomato paste to thicken to desired consistency. Simmer chili a little longer.

8. Taste the chili. Add more spices, salt and pepper depending on personal preference.


  1. Sounds like you make Chili like my husband, I never know whats going to be in each batch exactly but its always good & it always has beans

  2. I agree about the beans. Without them it’s like sloppy joe soup.

    I can appreciate your Chili pride; I am known to exude some myself.

    I just made a giant batch of my Ghost Chili for me and my roommates (best batch yet). To me chili isn’t quite right unless it has some Insanity.

  3. Correction: It’s not your Dad’s chili, it’s your Grandma McKelvey’s Chili (Dad admitted to to it at the Chili Cook-Off in 2007).

  4. This is a fantastic chili recipe. The depth of flavor is incredible. We loved it – thanks.

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