Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Chili

Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Chili

In her post Chickpea Curry-Topped Sweet Potatoes earlier this week, Maggy wrote about her commitment to eating as unprocessed as she possibly could in October. I love Maggy’s enthusiasm for doing the right thing. She jumps in, starts living the life, and sharing the truth.

I’m different. Instead I listen to the facts and ponder  them for awhile. I think about all the people I develop recipes for–where they are and what they need. The fact is we all can’t go unprocessed cold turkey. It’s the reason I’ve cut back on meat consumption rather than become a full-time vegetarian. But thanks to Maggy and Sharon, I’m evolving. I’m not committed to an unprocessed diet at this point, but I’m aware.

Last weekend was Octoberfest in Bethlehem, and Maggy and Andy came out for all of the festivities. Along with brats and beer, there were temptations at every booth–funnel cakes, big buckets of fries. I knew Maggy needed to eat before we went. And because I wanted to support her unprocessed commitment, I planned fun meals that she–and we–could  all enjoy.

Among them was this Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Chili, a recipe that caught my eye in Vegetarian Cooking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America. I adapted their recipe to my tastes and style,  and I love their brilliant use of coconut milk to add richness and body to this vegan chili.

The weekend was fun and part of it was because we ate lunches and dinners that tasted soulfully good, and when we got up from the table and headed out to Octoberfest, we felt good too!

Butternut Squash and Kidney Bean Chili
Serves: 6
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into medium dice
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1½ teaspoons dried thyme leaves
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) petite-diced tomatoes
  • 2 generous cups bite-size diced butternut squash
  • 2 cans (15 to 16 ounces each) kidney beans, drained
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 can (13.5 ounces) coconut milk
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallion, white and green part
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Heat oil in a soup kettle over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until softened, about 4 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, paprika, and thyme; sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add tomatoes; stew to reduce slightly, a couple of minutes longer.
  2. Add squash, kidney bean, broth, and coconut milk; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until squash are tender and flavors blend, about 15 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in scallions and cilantro; let stand to blend flavors, a few minutes longer. Serve, garnishing with extra scallions and cilantro.


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  1. Divina says

    Mmmm… just made this with kabocha squash instead of butternut squash and it is amazing. I’ll definitely make this one again. Thanks Pam!

  2. Amy says

    I am thinking of bringing this to Thanksgiving as an option for my vegan aunt. For everyone else, it seems like one of those “exotic sides’ that everyone would try out of curiousity and leave wanting the recipe.

  3. Amy says

    The vegan aunt thought it was delicious and packed up most of the leftovers to take home with her. My sister-in-law snagged the rest. Thank you!

  4. Darby says

    just found this on your website. I will be making it for the annual animal shelter Christmas party this weekend, as many in attendance are vegetarian and vegan. should be just the thing!

    • says

      Hey Angie, Sorry, we don’t do nutritional info on our site. There’s coconut milk in the soup which is a little caloric, but other than than that, it’s all good-for-you ingredients.

  5. Katherine says

    I made it for dinner last night. Delicious! The only thing I would change is that my two cups of butternut squash were nearly level. Next time I would make them more “rounded” or “heaping” cups of buttnernut squash. I was just being too wary of putting too much in.

  6. Sky North says

    I was looking for recipes that would use up what I have in my vegetable basket and store cupboard which might otherwise not get used up. I have too many squashes at this time of year (who doesn’t?!) and I also have loads of dried beans, lentils etc. I love vegetarian chilli but I get tired of making it the same way every time, which is to use mushrooms, bell peppers and zucchini as the vegetables, so finding your recipe has satisfied my craving for chilli whilst also allowing me to use up those little squashes and some beans. I have a chilli plant, which tends not to do too well once we get into this late part of th summer/early autumn (Northern England) so it’s also a great way to use up the chillis. I don’t use dried thyme, as I also have several pots of growing herbs, however I may start drying these this year, over the winter; a friend does this and her kitchen always smells wonderful!
    This dish was really delicious – I served it with home-made sesame seed bread (drizzled with olive oil, rubbed with garlic and sprinkled with crushed thyme and mature Cheddar cheese and heated in the oven for 10 minutes) and plain unsalted tortilla chips but next time I might serve with rice and/or corn bread. It’s the kind of dish you can serve on its own with a hunk of crusty bread for a quick lunch, or with several side dishes if you have guests. as always with dishes of this type, it seemed to taste better the next day, when I had the leftovers, re-heated with a baked potato :-)
    I shall definitely be trying out more of your recipes an I am so happy to have found another great food blog, so thank you so much for sharing!

  7. Darby says

    I see I commented two years ago when I made this for a party. It is very tasty but I found it to be quite liquid with the quart of stock. I made it again this year and after I had finished realized the same thing. more like a soup than a chili. I tried to reduce it and also mashing up some of squash and beans. still runnier than I like but better. wondering if any one else had this experience. I realize this is an old post but still some comments, so I thought I would give it a try. If I make it again, which I probably will I will start with half the amount of stock.

  8. Tamara says

    I have been making this recipe for years. Since becoming a vegan though, I tend to make this once a week so that I can enjoy bits of it daily. I am certain I am this recipe`s number one fan!! I have never even bothered to tweak this recipe because there is no possible way it can be any more delicious than it already is. Though, I do cook it down longer sometimes to thicken it and I always serve it over Basmati rice.
    Thank you so very much for introducing me to the love of my foodie life:-)
    I absolutely never comment on recipes but this one has changed my life. Thanks again for sharing.

    • says

      Thanks for the thumbs up Tamara, and I’m honored that you took the time to comment on this recipe. For those who want a thicker chili, simply cut the broth quantity in half.

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