No-Numbers Chili

Pot of chili

I’ve been on an extended hiatus from writing. I’m getting ready to start again, so I’m dipping my toe back in the water with something easy and fun — recipes.

I love this recipe. It has no numbers in it — at all. No quantities, no temperatures, no cooking times.

For cooks who prefer more guidance in their recipes, I promise I’ll have those later. But I know some cooks will love the flexibility of this one.

The most important part of this recipe is the variety of peppers. Get as many kinds of fresh peppers as you can manage. If you don’t know which peppers are which, it’s pretty easy to look up. Get a variety of heat levels — some sweet, some medium, some hot. Don’t overdo it on the hot ones: a little goes a long way.

And I’m not kidding about gloves. WEAR GLOVES when chopping the peppers. I speak from sad experience. Recipe after the jump.

Chili (recipe from Ingrid)


Olive oil
Peppers — a wide variety, mostly sweeter or medium, some hot. I like a mix of red or orange bells, Anaheims, Poblanos, bananas, and Jalapeños, with one or two Serranos or Habaneros.
Carrot, grated
Celery (optional)
Chili powder
Mexican oregano
Crushed or diced tomatoes
Stock and/or red wine (beer also works)
Black beans, canned
Kidney beans, canned
Cooked chicken (optional but very good; ideally from Pollo Campero or another Mexican chicken place; ground beef or fake ground beef are also fine)
Frozen corn (fire roasted is extra good)
Black pepper


WITH GLOVES, dice peppers, making sure hot peppers are chopped small.

Chop onions and sautee in olive oil. When onions are partly cooked, add peppers, garlic, grated carrot, celery if using, and all spices except black pepper. Let spices bloom in hot oil.

Add tomatoes. Add stock and/or red wine, beans, and meat or fake meat if using. Simmer for a little while. Taste intermittently and adjust seasoning.

When it’s close to done, add frozen corn and increase heat. When it’s back up to temperature, adjust seasoning, including fresh ground black pepper.

Serve on its own, or with rice, tortillas, cornbread, or Fritos. Good topped with grated cheddar, sour cream, or plain Greek yogurt.

This freezes really well.

No-Numbers Chili