How to Make the Perfect Winter Chili in Under an Hour

We’ll let you in on a cold weather secret: chili doesn’t have to take hours—it can be perfected in under an hour! In this Mexican-inspired vegetable chili, butternut squash, black beans, and bell pepper are cooked with chipotle, spices, and tomatoes, making for a hearty meal that tastes like it’s been simmering forever. Baked homemade tortilla chips add crunch to this wonderfully wintry dinner, which will keep you wanting more. But that’s okay—it’s so quick to make that you can do it again tomorrow.

1 cup black beans
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 red onion
8 ounces vegetable stock
1 red bell pepper
⅛ teaspoon chili powder
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 chipotle pepper in adobo
8 ounces butternut squash
2 limes
3 tablespoons crumbled queso fresco
4 corn tortillas
2 ounces baby spinach


Prepare Ingredients:

Rinse black beans. Peel onion and cut into small dice. Rinse all produce. Halve bell pepper lengthwise, discarding seeds. Cut into ¼-inch dice. Quarter butternut squash cubes. Mince ½ chipotle in Adobo. Cut limes in half. Stack tortillas and cut into 6 wedges.

Sauté Aromatics:

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium pot over medium heat. When oil is shimmering, add onion and chipotle in adobo (using as much as desired). Cook for 5 minutes until onions are soft.

Sauté Vegetables:

Increase heat to medium high. Add bell pepper, squash, and spices to pot with onions. Sauté for another 5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired.

Simmer Chili:

Add diced tomatoes and vegetable stock to pot. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and pepper as desired. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium and simmer for 10 minutes. Add beans to Chili and cook until vegetables are completely soft and Chili is thick, about 2 minutes more.

Fry Tortillas:

Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat. When oil is shimmering, add tortillas and fry until golden brown, about 1 minute per side. Remove with tongs or a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Season with ¼ teaspoon salt and squeeze over juice of half lime. Work in batches, if needed.

Finish and Plate Chili:

Remove pot from heat. Add spinach to chili and cook for an additional 1–2 minutes until spinach is wilted. Divide chili between two bowls. Garnish with queso fresco and serve tortilla chips alongside. Slice remaining ½ lime into wedges and serve alongside.

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