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This Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Chili is a step up from your run-of-the-mill traditional chili. A balance of sweetness, smokiness, acidity, and a touch of subtle heat make this hearty THM E meal a flavor bomb! Use your favorite locally-sourced low-glycemic sweetener in place of the THM Super Sweet Blend to taste and you have a recipe that can be made with no special ingredients!
I already have a chili soup recipe in my first cookbook, Necessary Food, but this recipe is a little thicker with more complex flavors. (Plus I wanted to offer a chili soup recipe on my website! Chili soup is a classic staple, if you ask me.) If you have canned tomato juice on hand and don’t want to mess with chipotle peppers, check out the cookbook recipe.
This recipe makes a 5.5 quart Dutch oven full of filling, hearty chili. If you have a big family, you’re in luck! If you have a smaller family, enjoy leftovers for a few days. It’s just Ryan and me here and we polished off this chili over a few suppers/lunches. 😉 I LOVE leftovers! And chili is a prime candidate because the flavors get even better after they develop in the fridge overnight, right? It would probably be great to freeze for later meals as well, but I haven’t tried that.
Where does the smoke come from?
The smoked paprika, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and liquid smoke are all essential elements of the “smoke” flavor in this chili. Don’t leave ‘em out! Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce do contain a small amount of sugar, but the amount per serving in this chili is very small. I like La Costena brand available at Walmart. The chili does have a little kick of heat, but nothing too overwhelming (at least to my taste buds, and I’m a heat wimp).
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- 3 lbs. lean ground meat (I used ground beef, but ground turkey or venison would work as well.)
- 1 large onion (peeled and diced)
- 3 large garlic cloves (peeled and minced)
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons each onion powder, smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon each garlic powder, black pepper
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- 2 (16 oz.) cans mild chili beans (undrained)
- 1 (15 oz.) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
- 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
- 6 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (chopped)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon THM Super Sweet Blend (or more, to taste)
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 4 cups water (to desired consistency)
- 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
- Brown the ground meat in a splash of water in a large soup kettle or Dutch oven on the stovetop. If using meat that is 96% lean or leaner, just crumble it and set it aside in a separate bowl so you can use the soup kettle again. If using meat that is not 96% lean (use the leanest you can!), rinse in hot water and drain after cooking, then crumble and set aside.
- Dry fry the onion and garlic in the soup kettle/Dutch oven, adding the spices as the onions fry.
- Once the onions are starting to get soft, add the ground meat and the rest of the ingredients, letting the chili heat up while you’re dumping things in. Add the water and salt after the rest of the ingredients. Add enough water to bring the chili to your desired consistency; I used 4 cups. Add salt to taste; the amount may vary depending on the ingredients you used.
- Bring the chili to a boil, cover, and simmer at least 15 minutes (preferably longer to let the flavors develop).
- Taste and adjust as desired before serving. If the sweet/smoky flavors fade after long cooking, feel free to add more sweetener and liquid smoke as desired, then cook 5 minutes to mellow things out before serving. You can adjust the salt and heat as well.
-Canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce do contain a small amount of sugar, but the amount per serving in this chili is very small. I like La Costena brand available at Walmart.
-The smoked paprika, chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, and liquid smoke are all essential elements of the “smoke” flavor in this chili. Don’t leave ‘em out! The chili does have a little kick of heat, but nothing too overwhelming (at least to my taste buds, and I’m a heat wimp).
-Nutrition calculated for 12 large servings with 96% lean ground beef (undrained).
-Gluten free: use gluten-free ingredients