Turkey and Red Bean Chili

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I am two weeks post back surgery (click HERE for that post) and slowly getting back into the swing of things. The surgery is the easy part. The recovery, and the patience needed to let myself rest and recuperate, is harder. I am not one to sit idle so it has been a real test for me.

Yesterday I got the go ahead to move about more and yes, even do some cooking. Of course nothing too complicated or that would involve lifting too many heavy pots and pans.

Secret chili ingredients
Secret chili ingredients

I know it might seem strange, but cooking does relax me, and today in particular, I was needing that. It is a cold, rainy day and a hearty chili felt in order. Plus my husband is happy to have a day off from the stove.

Though cocoa powder and molasses might seems better reserved for a hot steamy mug of hot chocolate or pumpkin pie, both are found in many a Mexican dish.  Both give a depth of flavor to this chili that makes it extra delicious.

I made my chili in my slow cooker so it would stay warm for tonight’s dinner and give the chance for a long simmer.  I sautéed everything in the pot insert, on the stove, then transferred to the slow cooker.  At the end of the cooking I will add the spinach before serving.


Turkey and Red Bean Chili

A hearty, healthy chili, perfect for a fall day.  Serve with cornbread, avocado, and grated cheddar cheese. Freeze the rest for another dinner.

Serves 8


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1 teaspoon each, kosher  salt and pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3 pounds ground turkey
3 tablespoons chili powder
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 28-ounce cans diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons unsulfured molasses
2 28-ounce cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
4 large handfuls baby spinach, or 16 ounce frozen chopped spinach


1. Heat a Dutch oven, or other heavy large soup pot, over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic with salt and pepper and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add turkey, stirring and breaking up meat with a spoon, until no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.

2. Stir in chili powder, cocoa powder, and cumin; cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.

3. Stir in tomatoes, molasses and beans. Bring to a boil then educe heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes. Add in spinach and continue simmering until wilted, about 2 minutes.

4. Check chili for seasonings (you might need more salt or pepper). Serve with desired toppings.

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