Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate

This Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate uses lean ground turkey, white (or pinto) beans, ancho chile powder, and cocoa powder.

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com

(Updated with better photos and step-by-step instructions, December 2013. This recipe was first posted in 2007 when I was excited about an article in the Deseret News that spotlighted my blog and mentioned some other food blogs too.  Utah is having an unusually cold winter this year, so it seemed like the perfect time to make this chili again and update the photos!)

I wasn't the biggest fan of ground turkey when I first tried this recipe, but it's low in fat and healthy and it's really grown on me through the years.  I'm glad that back in 2007 when I saw a recipe in The Bon Appetit Cookbook for chili that used white beans, ground turkey, and just a taste of unsweetened cocoa powder, I was game to give it a try.

This recipe is a bit spicy with very generous amount of ground Ancho chile powder, some regular chili powder, a little ground Chipotle chile, plus dried oregano, ground cumin, and cocoa powder for that hint of chocolate that makes it so good.   (You can certainly use a bit less of the spicy chili powders, which I would recommend if you're making it for kids.)  Here in Utah we're hoping for some warmer weather, but I have some of this in the freezer for those remaining cold days I know are still coming.

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
Just for the heck of it I mixed up the beans with one can of pinto beans and two cans of white beans this time.  You'll need 3 cans of beans, rinsed well, or you can start with a lb. of dried white beans that have been soaked overnight and cooked.

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
Put the drained beans into the soup pot with the tomatoes and beef stock, and start to simmer on low.

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
Brown the chopped onion in 2 tsp. of the olive oil.  When the the onion is soft and starting to brown, add the dried oregano, ground cumin, Ancho chile powder, regular chile powder, and Chipotle chile powder (if using) and saute about one minute to release the flavors; then add the spices to the soup pot.  (If you're making for kids I might reduce the amount of chile powder and leave out the Chipotle chile powder.)

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
Add the other teaspoon of olive oil to the pan and cook the ground turkey until it's nicely browned, breaking apart with the turner as you cook. 

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
Add the turkey to the soup pot, deglazing the pan with 1 cup of water and adding that as well.  Also add the bay leaves and unsweetener cocoa powder with a pinch or two of salt.

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
Simmer on low until all the flavors are well combined and the chile is slightly reduced and thickened, about 1 hour, although it can go a little longer.  Stir in the chopped cilantro.  (Forgot to take a photo of that!)  Serve hot, with sour cream and/or grated cheese if desired.

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
And just for your amusement, here's the original photo of this chili from back in 2007!  No idea why the original version looks so much redder than the one I made recently but I might possibly have taken the photo with a flash back in those days.

Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate found on KalynsKitchen.com
Turkey and White Bean Chili with Chocolate
(Makes 8-10 servings. Recipe adapted by Kalyn from The Bon Appetit Cookbook.)

1 lb. dried white beans, soaked overnight and cooked
(you can substitute three 15 oz. cans of beans; I used 2 cans of white beans and 1 can of pinto beans )
2 cans (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes
4 cups homemade beef stock or 2 cans (14 oz.) beef broth plus 1/2 cup water
2 tsp. + 1 tsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 T dried oregano
1 T ground cumin
4 T ground Ancho chile powder (I use Penzeys)
2 T chile powder
(If you don't have Ancho chile powder, just use 6 T chile powder, or maybe a little less if you're making for kids)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. ground Chipotle chile powder (optional, I use Penzeys; I would omit this if making for kids) 
1 lb. ground turkey
3 bay leaves
2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch salt
1 cup (more or less to taste) chopped cilantro (optional)
sour cream and/or grated cheese for serving (optional)

To use dried beans, soak beans overnight or all day in cold water. Pour out water, add fresh water to cover, and cook beans at a low simmer about 1 1/2 hours, or until soft but not mushy. (Be sure beans are as done as you'd like them, because when you add them with tomatoes they won't soften a lot more.) Drain beans and put in heavy soup pot.

To use canned beans, drain beans into a colander placed in the sink and rinse well with cold water (until no more foam appears.)

Put beans, tomatoes and beef stock into a medium-sized soup pot and start to simmer.   Heat 2 tsp. olive oil in heavy frying pan, add chopped onion and saute until onions are soft and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add dried oregano, ground cumin, ground Ancho chile powder, chile powder, and ground Chipotle chile powder and cook about 1 minute, or until it's fragrant. Put onion/spice mixture into pot and continue to simmer.

Add 1 tsp. more olive oil to frying pan and add turkey. Cook until well done and starting to brown, breaking apart with turner. Add turkey to soup pot. Deglaze frying pan with 1 cup water, scraping any browned bits off bottom of pan, and add to pot.

Add bay leaves, cocoa powder, and salt to the pot. Simmer on low heat until all ingredients are well blended and tomatoes are starting to break apart, about one hour, or a little longer if you prefer. Turn off heat and stir in chopped cilantro if using. Let sit five minutes, then serve. Can be served with sour cream and/or grated cheese if desired

South Beach Suggestions:
Beans are considered a "good carb" on the South Beach Diet and are approved for any phase, but they're a limited food so use portion control for Phase One.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Tasty Ideas with Ground Turkey:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)

Ground Turkey Green Chile Soft Tacos ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Ground Turkey Buffalo Meatballs ~ I Breathe I'm Hungry

Ground Turkey Soup with Rice, Kale, Mushrooms, and Butternut Squash ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Slow Cooker Thai Red Curry Turkey ~ The Perfect Pantry

Spicy Slow Cooker Soup with Ground Turkey, Pinto Beans, Red Bell Pepper and Green Chiles ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosure:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!
counter customizable free hit
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. What a great article! I'm thrilled to see my blog mentioned, and if you had anything to do with that, Kalyn, thanks!

  2. jeannyh@fastmail.fmMarch 7, 2007 at 7:31 AM

    You use a lot of ground turkey where most recipes would call for ground beef. Are you using ground turkey breast, which has almost no fat and not so much flavor, or regular ground turkey? Most of the ground turkey labels I read show that ground turkey that isn't just breast meat has almost as much fat as 85% lean ground beef. If that's the case, why use turkey?

    Thanks. I love your blog and have had great success with your recipes!


  3. Hi Susan,
    I'd love to take credit, but actually I resisted listing my favorite blogs, because I knew some would get left out, so she picked them from my blogroll, plus from the Food Blog Award winners. But it's A-ok with me that she picked you!

    I think this is the only recipe I've ever posted with ground turkey, but I'll have to check. I think this was ground turkey breast, which I would only use in a recipe like this where there's a lot of liquid. As far as why use turkey, there are some people who avoid red meat, so it's a good option for them. (I'm not one of them, which is one of the reasons I've never used ground turkey that much.) As far as South Beach, low fat ground beef is just fine, and I normally use the ground beef with less than 10% fat. Glad to hear you're having good success with the recipes.

  4. I really need to try this chocolate in savoury meat stew thing. I keep getting this recommendation so clearly it is worth it. Tell me - can you tell it's in there?

  5. That looks excellant!! A touch of chocolate does add a depth to chili. And it's always fun to cook with chocolate, isn't it! :):)

  6. Katerina, there is just a hint of chocolatey flavor. Sher answered it for me, it's more depth to the flavor.

    Sher, yes, chocolate is good. I think this might be my only recipe with chocolate, sigh.

  7. How funny that I open the paper up today and see your name in the paper. I was just thinking about you the other day. I know I never had you as a teacher but you've always been a role model to me after helping you when you were my sister's teacher. I'm so glad I've found you again. I haven't had much time today to look at your blog but I will. I hope we stay in touch. If I remember correctly the last time we ran into each other it was at a Mary Chapin-Carpenter concert up in the mountains.
    Norah (Gadd) Baron

  8. Gorgeous photo! Pretty much chili is just good especially with beans. I've tried the chocolate with spicy dishes and it does seem a little like magic! Sort of taste it but not, just seems better.

  9. This looks so good Kalyn. I saw this in BA and put it on the "back burner" for when I'm not cooking vegan. I love the idea of using the chocolate. Think I might deglaze with beer instead of water. Mr. CC would like that!

  10. Hi Kalyn,
    i came over from TBTAM, after the South Beach comment. I'll be back to look around some more. It looks chock a block full of good things. Glad I found you.

  11. Thank you so much for this great recipe! Even though spring has sprung here in Vienna, I shall cook this chili on one of the cooler days.

  12. Hi Norah,
    How fun to hear from you! Please do keep in touch.

    Tanna, the touch of chocolate was great in this. Must use it more often.

    Christine, is it one more day now. You're such a great mom!

    jmb, welcome. Isn't The Blog That Ate Manhattan a great blog. Nice to find fellow South Beach fans.

    Merisi, hope you'll like it.

  13. Great article, Kalyn. I've been waiting for it.

    The soup looks great, BTW.

    (On Day 13 of Phase One and still loving it.)


  14. Thanks Mimi. I'm so glad you're liking phase one. Isn't it just almost magical how your waist shrinks and your energy level goes up? And this is the *hard* part of the diet. See why I love it so much!

  15. I'm becoming a confirmed fan of using cocoa as a spice. I'll have to add it to chili next time.
    I don't use ground turkey - can't get it here, but our beef is really low in fat so....
    Congrats on the nice article about you and your blog!
    3 - 5 hours a day!?!?!?

  16. Katie yes, 3-5 hours a day. I know it's crazy! That does count time spent reading other blogs and writing things for Blogher. I do spent a lot of time, but I love doing it!

  17. Hey Kalyn - this looks so yummy! Chili is such a great easy meal and the chocolate gives it an elegant twist. In a similar-but-opposite way, I've recently gone crazy for chili-infused chocolate cake. It's a great combo!
    Congrats on your blog mention and on the printer-friendly recipes... one day I hope to figure that out too!

  18. This looks amazing --I've been dying to try the chocolate-meat combo, but until now have only come across recipes with red meat, which I don't eat.

    Which brings me to my question: If I replace the beef stock with chicken or turkey stick, would that ruin the flavor?

  19. Alaswhatever, either chicken or turkey stock would be just fine in this.

  20. This has all the great flavors of a mole sauce, so what's not to love?!

  21. Thanks Lydia, it was definitely good!

  22. Love all the rich spices in this chili Kalyn and the chocolate definitely adds extra depth. Always fun to look back on photos - love your updated ones!

  23. Thanks Jeanette. I shudder when I see some of the old ones, but I'm having fun updating them!

  24. Typo on the chile 2 T cup chile powder?

  25. THANK YOU! (It used to say 1/8 cup, which I decided was confusing, but obviously I screwed up when I "improved" it.)

  26. This was REALLY REALLY good - now going to be my go-to chili recipe. The thing with cooking the onions in an excess of spice was amazing. I added minced garlic while cooking the onions, and also a bit of apple cider vinegar to the pot with the tomatoes and beans. Oh, and I used greek yogurt instead of sour cream as a healthy substitute.

  27. So glad you enjoyed it. I love the idea of using Greek yogurt as a topping.


I'm so happy you're taking the time to comment on Kalyn's Kitchen! I love hearing from people who stop by, especially if you're sharing feedback or asking questions about a recipe I've posted here.

I've recently changed my comment settings so people can comment without signing in, but you will need to check the box to show you're a live person, and comments on older posts won't show up until I publish them. Thanks for understanding!

And if you really like the recipe, Pins, Shares, Tweets, and Yums are always appreciated!

Blogging tips