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Gobble-It-Up Turkey Chili

(recipe, Jessica Harper)

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I know that, like Pain-in-the-Ass Minestrone, this recipe has a slightly daunting ingredient list. You're probably already getting irritable, imagining yourself chopping vegetables while the rest of your family happily watches "Dancing with the Stars" and eats popcorn. However, also like the minestrone, this chili is Miracle Food: everyone will eat it. Not only that, they will love it, request it often, and devour it noisily, which makes it worth the aggravation. Plus this chili has the added advantage of providing your group with all kinds of healthy vegetables cleverly disguised as something delicious. I go light on spices here because my husband is anti-spice. Tom is also fiercely opposed to onions, garlic, and red peppers (and about 80 other vegetables). If you live with such a person, do as I do and cook this chili when he or she is not in the vicinity of your kitchen. Ignorance is bliss; they will eat it right up in happy oblivion.


  1. ¼ cup olive oil
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 6 garlic cloves, minced
  4. 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  5. 2 celery ribs, chopped
  6. 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and diced
  7. 2 lb. ground turkey
  8. 2 tsp. chili powder
  9. 1 tsp. dried thyme
  10. 1 tsp. ground coriander
  11. 1 tsp. ground cumin
  12. 1 tsp. salt
  13. 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  14. ½ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  15. 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  16. 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  17. 1 can (15 ounces) small white beans, drained and rinsed
  18. 2 cups tomato juice
  19. 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  20. 1 can (14 ounces) chopped tomatoes, with their juices
  21. 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
Optional garnishes
  1. Chopped fresh cilantro
  2. Chopped onions
  3. Sour cream
  4. Grated Cheddar cheese


  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add the onion and cook until it's soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the carrots, celery, and bell pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.
  2. Add the turkey, chili powder, thyme, coriander, cumin, salt, black pepper, and cayenne if you're using it. Cook, breaking the turkey up with a fork, until the meat is browned and well combined with the vegetables, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomato juice, broth, tomatoes with their broth, and tomato paste, and stir to combine. Bring the chili to a simmer. Lower the heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until it's slightly reduced and the flavors are concentrated, about 45 minutes.
  4. Serve the chili hot, with the optional garnishes on the side.


If you have any energy left after all this, make a salad and a skillet of cornbread, and you've got yourself dinner. You can use just one kind of bean, if your family is confused by variety. You also might want to adjust the spices. My family will eat nothing spicy, so I use less (or no) cayenne pepper. And if you don't happen to have coriander on hand, don't go rushing to the market, cursing this recipe and your life; just ditch the coriander. You can also add more chili powder if your family is more adventurous than mine. If you're like me, by the time you're done with this you may be in no mood to chop cilantro. Forget the Garnish Guilt: that stuff is optional.