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Chili Cornucopia: Know Your Different Types of Chili

Any cook knows that an award-winning chili recipe is a secret only to be shared with those you trust — and you know have an appreciation for good chili. But what makes one type of chili so distinct from another? Below, we explain how spices, peppers and other key ingredients that distinguish common types of chili.

Basic chili (soup) facts:

Chili Base Basics

This soup or stew gets its name from the chili peppers (Capsicum annuum) that are the principal ingredient in any chili recipe. Other essential ingredients for a traditional chili base include meat (usually stewing beef), stock, white Spanish onion, garlic and salt.

Chili Con Carne

Chili Stew Origin

The original, classic chili is chili con carne (chili with meat) and is traditionally a stew of beef in Colorado sauce. Spices and herbs to include: Chili powder, Adobo seasoning, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, ground cumin seed, crushed red pepper flakes.

While the traditional, no-beans, built-from-scratch version of chili con carne can take hours, you can still enjoy the same flavors without standing over a hot stove. Just let a slow cooker and Simply Organic Chili Seasoning Mix work their magic for you.

Recipe: Slow Cooker Chili con Carne

Chili Variations

In the United States, classic chili con carne has evolved into versions simply called "chili" that include beans, tomatoes and ground beef. Hardcore traditionalists may frown upon these variations regardless of how delicious they may be.

Green Chili with Chicken

Green Chili

Green chili is a catch-all for variations built on a green chili sauce. It can be vegetarian but often features white meats or seafood such as chicken, fish and shellfish. Green chili is usually created with a base of chopped or pureed roasted fresh green New Mexico peppers. Spices and herbs to include: Cilantro flakes, ground coriander seed, ground cumin seed, garlic powder, oregano leaf, parsley flakes.

In our version, cumin and coriander, green chilies and chicken make a bright and warming weeknight meal.

Recipe: Green Chili with Chicken

Vegetarian White Bean Chili

White Chili

White chili usually goes light on the chili peppers, which are used to flavor a broth or stock that often includes white beans such as cannelini, navy or black eyed peas. Sweet corn kernels, corn milk, masa flour, and/or whole kernels of nixtamalized maize (hominy) may also be featured in white chili ingredients. White chili may be a broth-based soup or a thickened chowder-type soup that incorporates cheeses such as Monterey jack, cheddar and/or queso fresca. Spices and herbs to include: Cilantro leaf, ground coriander seed, ground cumin seed, garlic powder, oregano leaf, parsley flakes.

Our vegetarian take on white chili becomes a complete protein meal with the inclusion of white beans and corn.

Recipe: Vegetarian White Bean Chili

Black Bean Chili with Acorn Squash and Toasted Pepitas

Black Bean Chili

An inky, dark colored black bean chili is made with black turtle or frijoles negro beans. It is often vegetarian but may be made with a meat-based stock. It usually starts with a Colorado-type chili sauce which may include very dark-colored peppers such as dried anchos, pasillas and mulatos. Spices and herbs to include: Chili powder, black pepper, ground cumin seed, crushed red pepper flakes, ground chipotle pepper.

To make black bean chili even more interesting, our fitting Meso-American take incorporates squash and pumpkin seeds with the beans and chilies.

Recipe: Black Bean Chili with Acorn Squash and Toasted Pepitas

Please Pass the Chili Powder

The spice blend known as chili powder is essential to classic chili con carne and the latter Americanized versions. Chili powder may or may not be a part of green, white and black chili recipes as well.

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