Pinto Bean Chili with Chicken and Kale

The red-green-gold or the blue-silver decoration has given way to the orange-black in the supermarket aisles in and around Cincinnati. The Roaring Tiger graces every cap, jersey , sweatshirts, mugs and watches.

Yup! The Superbowl fever is here and its raging. The Cincinnati Bengals are on every conceivable merchandise.

Trivia: The Cincinnati Bengals are a professional American football franchise based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are currently members of the North division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Their home stadium is Paul Brown Stadium in Downtown Cincinnati. Their current head coach is Marvin Lewis. Their primary colors are orange and black. The team's official mascot is a Royal Bengal Tiger named Who Dey.

While I still don't understand the nuances of the game, I kinda like the frenzy associated with it. It reminds me of home. It reminds me of cricket. It reminds me of the mass hysteria that comes with cricket. In short, I love madness! Of any kind....

Super bowl also reminds me of Chili.



The ground chicken - red bean stew with chunky veggies; warm spices; the one that makes your house smell delicious; the one I promised to post more variation but never actually did...
Yup! That Chili!

I had bookmarked a number of recipes, variation of the basic chili that I made last year, but never actually got around making them. I had my heart set of Giada's White Bean and Chicken Chili, the moment I saw it and it was the right time to make a batch.

Now, I have to be true to my middle name. Its a compulsion.

My middle name???


Tweaking is my middle name and I really have a compulsion to prove every single time that it's not a misnomer. While Giada tried a Italian-Mexican combination using fennel and cumin together, I went with just Italian flavors. So not cumin or cilantro in my chili. Instead, I went with fennel (both seeds and powder), oregano and basil.

Classico Italiano! (Classic Italian! Long live Google Translate)

When you saute that ground chicken with fennel, garlic, basil and oregano.... Man! It smells like those Sweet Italian Sausage, both Sid and me are crazy about!

Also, I swapped Swiss Chard in favor of those gorgeous curly Kale. The original recipe calls for White/ Cannellini Beans. I used Pinto, because that was all I had in hand.

This Pinto Bean Chili with Chicken and Kale neither looks nor tastes like a classic Chili, but still packs a punch. It is incredibly flavorful yet light and very very filling. I had served it Quinoa Cornbread Muffins but we could hardly eat. The chili itself was very filling and very satisfactory. Its different but a wonderful recipe to have in your repertoire. 

Here is the recipe:

Recipe Snapshot: Pinto Bean Chili with Chicken and Kale

Serves: 4 serving

(1 serving = 1.5 cup)

What I used:

Ground Chicken (or Turkey) - 1 lb

Kale - 1 large bunch (about 1 lb), thoroughly washed, stems removed and leaves torn into big chunky  pieces

Pinto Beans (or any white beans like Cannelloni Beans) - 1 (15.5 oz) can, drained and thoroughly rinsed. 

Onion -  1 large sized, finely chopped
Garlic - 5-6 fat cloves, minced

Fennel Seeds - 1 tsp, bruised and crushed
Fennel Powder - 2 tsp
Garlic Powder - 1 tsp
Onion Powder - 1 tsp
Paprika (or chili powder for some heat)- 1 tsp
Crushed Red Pepper flakes - 1 tsp (or more)
Dried Basil - 1/2 tsp
Dried Oregano - 1/2 tsp

Chicken Stock - 3 to 4 cups (I use Organic, low Sodium- Low Fat one from Costco)

Olive Oil - 2 tbsp

Salt to taste and freshly cracked pepper
Grated Parmesan cheese as garnish

What I did:
1. In a deep stock pot or a large saucepan, heat two tablespoon of olive oil. Add the finely chopped onions and minced garlic and saute till fragrant and lightly brown. About 3-4 minutes.

2. Now add the array of spices - garlic powder, onion powder, paprika (or chili powder), dried basil, dried oregano, crushed red pepper flakes and salt and roast it with the browned onion and garlic for just a minute or so. I did not add any crushed red pepper flakes, because Sid is still intolerant to heat. I added it to our individual bowls.

3. Add the ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently and breaking the meat with the back of the spatula till well its amalgamated with the spices and is browned and the entire kitchen smells like Sweet Italian Sausage! This will take about 6 to 8 minutes on medium high. When you would see little fat oozing out, that's when its done. Well browned meat along with the spices makes the chili really flavorful.

4. Now add the drained pinto beans and give it a good mix.

5. Next goes in the kale pieces. Mix it well with the spices and beans for a couple of minutes.

6. Its time to add the chicken stock. Add 3 cups of good quality organic low sodium-low fat chicken stock and mix well. Bring it to a boil and then let it simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, stirring intermittently, till its reached the "chili" consistency. Add more stock if needed. Or boil off excess liquid if its too soupy.

7. Serve hot with grated Parmesan and more crushed red pepper flakes.



  1. Finally, some ingredients I can easily find. Although I really don't want to try kale, I'll still test this recipe on your advice. Great recipe though!


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