Light Turkey Chili

Thanksgiving is over, and if you’re like many American homes, you probably have lots of leftover turkey lurking in your freezer (if you have any left in the fridge, you should probably toss it ;).  I always freeze turkey leftovers, since roasted turkey doesn’t keep terribly long, without going bad.  And, then, I have multiple bags of chopped, cooked turkey in the freezer, smiling hopefully at me each time I open the freezer to get, say . . . chocolate chips.  I mean, vegetables . . . (cough, cough).
This chili is nice because it not only uses leftover roasted turkey (as opposed to the ground turkey that most turkey chili recipes call for), but it is also packed with beautiful vegetables– making it both beautiful . . . and light.  And after the carbohydrate coma that most of us probably entered into with the Thanksgiving meal, and with all the Christmas sweet things coming up, we can indulge on this lighter, low carb meal.  Sounds like a win win situation, to me.
What are we waiting for?  Let’s do this!

Light Turkey Chili


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
1 large (28 oz) can diced tomatoes with basil and oregano
1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can Great Northern beans
2 tsp. chili powder
3 cups fully cooked, diced turkey
few dashes hot sauce, if desired


Saute onion, green pepper, salt, and pepper in olive oil until vegetables are tender.  Combine remaining ingredients and simmer on low for 1-2 hours, until flavors are well blended.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
A cast iron Dutch Oven is the workhorse of the winter kitchen.  Somehow, it just seems to chase those cold blues away when you have a big, heavy pot of something delicious bubbling merrily away on the back of the stove.  So I start by getting a nice, big Dutch Oven going.  A regular pot works fine, too, but Dutch Ovens are just begging to go the distance, for you, with cold weather cooking.  Simmering is their waltz, tenderizing their tango.  So break that baby out, if you have one, and let it have center stage, for a while.  You’ll be glad you did.
Get your Dutchie going on medium low heat.  I put a few tbsp. of olive oil in there, and then a chopped onion and 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper.  If you like your chili to have a little more heat, you can put 1/2 of a chopped hot pepper in there, also.  Sprinkle 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp. of black pepper over the vegetables, to give them some flavor while they cook.  These seasonings will dilute significantly in the finished product, but, as always, adjust your spices to taste– more or less, as desired.  If I have some, I mince a few cloves of garlic and throw that in there, too, to sauté with the vegetables as they begin to soften.  This is the part where your kitchen starts to smell amazing.
Now, you can get really creative.  I used kidney beans, black beans, Great Northern beans, seasoned tomatoes, cooked turkey, chili powder, and hot sauce.  But feel free to use whatever you like, and substitute whatever you have.  I think corn would taste great in here, too– it’s really more of a tomato based soup, than a chili.  You can go wild with vegetables.  Look how gorgeous it is– look at all those colors. Wouldn’t this look amazing in creamy white bowls, as a day after Thanksgiving meal, with your turkey sandwiches and ruby red cranberry sauce?  That’s what we want– a feast for the eyes, as well as the tummy 🙂
Cover the Dutch Oven and allow it to simmer, on low heat, for 2 hours.  In that time, taste it and see if it needs any other seasonings– more salt or pepper?  More heat?  More chili powder?  You’re the expert in your own kitchen.  You have to taste things to see what you think.  Make it perfect for you.  When it is completely finished simmering, and all those beautiful vegetables are working together, serve it up.  That’s another beautiful thing about Dutch Ovens– they are beautiful enough to go right from your stove to your table.  They rock every party.  This one, here, is my very favorite– Big Blue, my gorgeous Le Creuset.  Sigh.  It’s love.
There is no feeling like smelling nourishing, comforting food simmering away, all day, and then placing it before your hungry family and seeing them enjoy it.  It’s a real treat.  It makes all the work (cough, cough– I poured things into a pot.  What work?  Shhhh . . . I won’t tell, if you don’t!) seem worth it.  So enjoy the smiles and requests for a second helping.  Your kids (shh . . .) are eating . . . vegetables. And asking for seconds . . .
Excuse me . . . did the world just stop rotating?
You did it.  And I’m just so proud of you.


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