Turkey Chili with Pumpkin Puree

After just a couple of gorgeous warm and sunny weeks, Cincinnati is back to being chilly. And that means soups and stews are back with a vengeance in my kitchen.

One of my go to one-pot meal to make on a weekday is Chili. It is fuss free, very nutritious, delicious, Sid approved and I daresay pretty quick to put together. I agree, that there is a whole bunch of cans involved. Personally, I am not a big fan of canned products. But for a hearty chili, I prefer to go the can way. Mainly because most of the time, it is my last resort. There is hardly anytime left to soak and cook the beans and tomatoes beforehand.

Of late, my inbox is flooded with recipes using pumpkin puree. Pumpkin puree is a very nutritious addition to anything from baked good to soups and stews. It's high fiber content and essential minerals and vitamins virtually makes it a super food. And from a diabetes standpoint, this is what CNN has to say about Pumpkins,

"In scientific tests, pumpkin has been shown to reduce blood glucose levels, improve glucose tolerance and increase the amount of insulin the body produces. More testing needs to be done before we can say for sure what pumpkin's benefits for diabetics will be, but if you have diabetes, munching on pumpkin certainly won't hurt."

So when I decided to make chili for dinner on a rather cold and windy Tuesday, I grabbed a can of pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!) while returning from Sid's soccer class.

And I am so glad I did. My family loves pumpkin and I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I told them that the chili contained pumpkin. But if you have picky eaters and you choose not to disclose the 'secret' ingredient, believe me, they would never know. You can neither see nor taste the pumpkin anywhere in this chili. All you get is the creamy goodness and a hefty doze of fiber, potassium, iron and almost your daily requirement of Vitamin A!

This recipe makes a lot of chili. Six to eight servings easily. You can halve the quantity for a smaller batch. But I would recommend making a large batch and freezing half of it. Its reheats beautifully and like any other chili, the flavors are magical the next day. One quick tip: the presence of the pumpkin puree thickens the chili and gives a delicious creamy texture. It thickens as it cools too. So before reheating, add a half a cup of water or stock.

Here is the snapshot of the recipe. Hope your family loves it as much as we did. Happy eating!

Recipe Snapshot: Chicken Chili with Pumpkin Puree

Serves: 6 to 8 serving
(1 serving = 1.5 cup)

What I used:
Ground Turkey (or Chicken) - 1 lb

Red Kidney Beans - 2 (15.25 oz) can, drained and washed thoroughly

Whole Corn Kernels - 1 (15.25 oz) can, drained and washed thoroughly

Crushed Tomatoes - 1 (14.5 oz) can

Pumpkin Puree - 1 (15 oz) can

Water/ Chicken Stock  - 2 cups (or more, depending on the consistency of chili)

Onions - 1 large sized, finely chopped

Garlic - 3  fat cloves, finely minced

Bell Pepper (any color) - 2, diced into cubes (a combination of red and green looks particularly pretty. In this recipe I used only orange ones as that's the only ones I had)

Ground Cumin - 1.5 tsp

Smoked Paprika - 1 tsp

Chili Powder - 1 tsp ( or more, depends on personal taste)

Bay Leaf - 1

Olive oil - 2 tbsp

Salt to taste

Cilantro/ Coriander leaves  - 1 cup packed, finely chopped + more for garnishing

A generous squeeze of lime juice for serving

What I did:
1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat. Add the chopped onion and minced garlic and a bay leaf. Saute till the onion gets some color and the garlic is fragrant. 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add the ground turkey (or chicken) breaking them into smaller bits with the spatula. Keep frying, stirring continuously, till it is thoroughly cooked and well browned.

3. Add the ground cumin, red chili powder and the smoked paprika and keep cooking it with the ground turkey till the masalas are cooked through. Steps 2 and 3 should take about 5-7 minutes. 

4. Now add the bell peppers and cook it for a minute. I used only orange ones, as that's all I had. A combination of green and any other color would look very pretty. 

5. Now add the beans, corn, crushed tomatoes and the pumpkin puree and mix well. The mixture would be pretty thick. 

6. Add the chicken stock and mix well. Do a taste check and add salt accordingly. Its best to go low on salt at this stage. Bring the chili to a boil and then lower the heat and let it simmer for another half and hour.

7. Because of the pumpkin puree, the chili would be really thick and creamy. If you prefer, you can add a little water or stock and thin it down a bit. 

8. Before serving do another taste check and adjust the salt. Add a big bunch of chopped cilantro and mix well. Serve hot with a squeeze of lime and some more cilantro. 


1. This chili is so creamy and smoky from the pumpkin puree and the cumin and the smoked paprika, I really do not miss any topping . But if you are like the son and the husband, please feel top up the chili with sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, jalapeno slices, lettuce and/or pico de gallo.

2. Ground chicken or beef also works well for this recipe. 

3. I have used canned beans, corn and tomato here. If using dried beans, soak them overnight and dump everything in the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. 

Diabetic Platter:
Pumpkin, with its bright or deep orange color, is an excellent source of carotenoids, including beta-carotene (which converts into vitamin A in your body). One cup of pumpkin contains more than 200 percent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which is beneficial for your vision and more.

As an antioxidant, beta-carotene helps protect your body from disease-causing free radicals while boosting immune function. Further, research shows that people who eat four or more daily servings of beta-carotene-rich foods may lower their risk of heart disease and cancer.

Pumpkin is also rich in fiber, with three grams in a one-cup serving. Fiber can help control your blood sugar levels, improve skin health, lower hemorrhoid risk, and provide relief from irritable bowel syndrome, along with helping you maintain a healthy weight and proper digestion.

Other notable nutrients in pumpkin include vitamin C, potassium, riboflavin, copper, and manganese, along with vitamin E, B vitamins, folate, iron, and phosphorus. Taken together, pumpkin provides a powerful blend of nutrients that work together to synergistically benefit your health. As reported in Nutrition Research Reviews:

“Pumpkin is one of the well-known edible plants and has substantial medicinal properties due to the presence of unique natural edible substances. It contains several phyto-constituents belonging to the categories of alkaloids, flavonoids, and palmitic, oleic and linoleic acids.

Various important medicinal properties including anti-diabetic, antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and others have been well documented.” 



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