Chipotle Red Bean Chili with Bulgur, Roasted Peppers, and Optional Chorizo

People are serious about their chili—so serious that there are heavily guarded recipes among friends, chili cook-offs held in almost every town, and an International Chili Society, which, of course, holds chili cook-offs. There are debates over whether true chili should contain beans. Ground beef? Chunks of beef? Chicken?! And, there’s an almost infinite number of recipes to choose from. No doubt you have a favorite, but if you’re looking for a flavorful option that can satisfy both meat-eaters and vegetarians (and can also be made in a gluten-free version), here is a thoroughly modern chili.

According to chef and cookbook author Robin Asbell, who created this recipe for Real Food, the smoky flavor of chipotle gives this hearty chili a warming heat, while chewy bulgur has a texture reminiscent of ground beef. It’s really quick and easy but tastes like it takes longer. To make this recipe gluten-free, replace the bulgur wheat with gluten-free, steel-cut oats; they’ll give the finished product a thicker, more viscous texture, but it will still be delicious.

It’s certainly prime chili-making season, and we’re not keeping secrets.

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ c. uncooked bulgur (or ½ c. gluten-free, steel-cut oats, uncooked)
¾ c. water or stock
1 14½-oz. can Mexican-flavored diced tomatoes
1 16-oz. can kidney beans, drained
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
12 oz. roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
1 tsp. chipotle powder
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper
1 8-oz. can corn, drained
2 oz. (about ½ c.) chorizo per person, cooked and kept warm (optional)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and sauté about 10 minutes. Add garlic and stir 1 minute. Add bulgur, water or stock, tomatoes, beans, tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, chipotle powder, cumin, salt, and pepper. Increase heat to high to bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to maintain a low bubble. Cook, covered, about 15 minutes. Add water if needed.

Test chili to ensure bulgur is cooked; it should be tender and chewy. Stir in corn and heat through. Serve with 2 ounces cooked chorizo per bowl, if using.

Nutrition info (per serving) Chipotle Red Bean Chili w. Bulgur, Roasted Peppers: CALORIES 174 (30 from fat); FAT 3g (sat. 0g) ; CHOL 0mg; SODIUM 1026mg; CARB 32g; FIBER 7g; PR OTEIN 8g

With Optional Chorizo: (per serving): CALORIES 432 (225 from fat); FAT 25g (sat. 9g); CHOL 50mg; SODIUM 1726mg; CARB 33g; FIBER 7g; PROTEIN 22g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.