This Classic Chili recipe can be made with or without meat and uses creamy tomato soup for a unique base!
Ah, there’s nothing better than cozying up with a big bowl of chili, a blanket, and some football, am I right?
HA! Who am I kidding, there’s close to no football in my life. It’s more like Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal accompanied by copious amounts of comfort food on cold winter Sundays.
But regardless of how you veg-out during the winter, this chili will hit the spot.
Now that it’s getting dark SO dang early, I love making a big batch of chili on a Sunday night (ahem, Sunday night dinners are my favorite if you haven’t noticed) and snuggling in to pretend the weekend isn’t ending.
The best part is that chili on Sunday means I have leftovers all week long. If there’s something better than having chili warm off the stove, it’s that it’s the gift that keeps on giving, with its melding of flavors as it waits to be gobbled up the next night.
This recipe is a spin-off of the chili I had growing up, which means it’s super simple, adaptable, and a timeless classic… just like any ol’ good Midwestern recipe.
How To Make Super Simple Bean Chili
Start by sauteing some onion, jalapeño, and garlic in butter (or an oil of your choice if you prefer).
Add in the perfect spices:
- chili powder
- cayenne pepper
THEN THE SMELLS! Ohhhh, if these photos had smell-o-vision, because your home will fill with the comforting, spicy aroma of homemade chili.
This Classic Chili recipe is also super adaptable. It doesn’t have to be vegetarian. My family often browns ground beef for the guys who enjoy meat in their chili and split it in half. Figure out what works best for your family/friends and adjust accordingly!
The Secret Ingredient
That’s right! I haven’t nailed down my understanding of whether or not it’s a purely Midwestern move, but my mom always used creamy tomato soup in chili growing up. And it’s the only way I’ll ever make chili. Ever.
It adds a creamy, richness to the base of the chili that cannot be replaced!
I do need to know: have you added tomato soup to your chili before?
After adding the soup, it’s a wrap! The chili will simmer away for a bit to thicken up and the flavors will meld together.
Spicy Bean Chili in the Instant Pot
This is a welcomed update to this classic recipe – Instant Pot version! Yes, updated photos in 2019 also require updated options for the Instant Pot because it’s all the rage. Using the Instant Pot makes this recipe EVEN EASIER. You literally throw it all in, let it cook at high pressure for 6 minutes, and voila, you have piping hot, spicy bean chili ready to eat!
And um, ONE POT TO WASH (which admittedly is the same on the stove, so you’re winning even if you don’t have an IP ;)).
Either way, no matter how you cook it up, the other favorite part about having chili on dark fall nights is CHEESE! Lots and lots of cheese. So much cheese it strings all over when you try to eat. But it doesn’t matter, because it’s cheese. And needless to say, there’s nothing that tops extra cheesy chili.
Classic Vegetarian Chili
- 1 Tablespoon butter
- 1 medium yellow onion diced
- 1 - 2 Tablespoons jalapeno pepper seeds removed and finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 1 1/2 TBSP chili powder
- 1 TBSP cumin
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 2 15- ounce cans kidney beans rinsed and drained
- 2 15- ounce cans black beans rinsed and drained
- 1 15- ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 32- ounce box of creamy tomato soup
- ~1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt or to taste
- 1 pound ground beef if using
- Cheddar cheese
- Jalapeno slices
- Sour Cream or Greek Yogurt for a healthier option!
- Melt butter (or heat oil if you prefer) over medium-high heat in large stockpot. Saute onion and jalapeno until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add a pinch of salt. Add garlic and saute an additional 1-2 minutes. Stir in chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a bit of salt to taste. Add beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato soup. Add additional salt.
- Bring chili to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Serve with garnishes as desired.
- Place all ingredients in the Instant Pot (if using meat, brown the meat in the pot using sautè function first). Cook on high pressure for 6 minutes. Quick release the steam and serve with desired garnishes.
This recipe was originally published on November 8, 2015; the photographs were updated in January 2019. No changes were made the recipe itself, but it was edited for clarity and Instant Pot instructions were added.