Pantry Chili Tutorial… How to Make a GREAT Chili without Going to the Store

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Today it’s cold… Not just a little chilly, but “to the bone”, teeth chattering; even DANGEROUS cold.  I woke up this morning and it was MINUS 8 degrees here in Kansas City and I know that there are plenty of places that wish their temperature was that high.

It’s a perfect day, made for Chili!!!

But it’s also a day when you want to come up with a chili that you can make without going to the store… Just pantry items.  It’s just too cold to run out to the store because you forgot to buy oregano.  Making do with your pantry, I bet we can come up with a Chili worthy of a record setting day…

Here’s a few ideas about making chili without a trip to the store.


Just yesterday I posted a recipe for Fresh Canned Tomato Soup.  And I confess that this chili was born at the bottom of the crock pot of  that tomato soup (the leftovers).  So, if you planned ahead and had the ingredients for a tomato soup… great.  More likely you have a can of tomato soup in the pantry, maybe even a pint or two in the freezer from the last time you made scratch homemade soup.  But you also may have a jar of Pasta Sauce (Preggo or Ragu always seems to be on sale and even though I make a lot of fresh made sauces, some times I buy a “just in case” jar that will sit in my pantry for months… Just in case.  You need some type of tomato base for the chili… Canned Tomatoes, Tomato Soup (freezer or canned), thinned Tomato Paste… I bet you got something that will make that tomato base.  And if need be… A couple cups of plain old ketchup works.

Next on the ingredient list is a thinner.  Something to stretch that tomato base into a rich gravy to hold all that meat and beans and extras that will go into our chili.

Pantry2BChili2BTutorialChicken stock works for me.  I usually have a few cups in my freezer since I make stock… but that’s my pantry.  You may have bouillon cubes… Chicken or Beef that works fine.  Or think outside the box and go for the bottle… Beer chili is fantastic.  I am a beer guy, but a little white wine works.  And I have even heard of a teetotaler TEA Chili… Lots of options that are probably in your pantry.

As to meat… Hopefully you have a pound or two of ground beef.  If not, a red Chicken chili is delicious.  Or how about hunting the bottom of your freezer… got a roast you can cut up?  Or a pork loin.  Maybe even a tube of sausage that you can brown and use.  And I bet the kids would love a bowl of HOT DOG Chili… Just slice most of em up, then cut those slices into quarters (and make Garlic Bread from the buns).  But what about a vegetarian chili… No meat but lots of Peppers, Onions, Carrots, Celery, etc.

Beans… Well, don’t get hung up on Black beans or pinto beans or kidney or homestyle or with brown sugar or whatever.  That bean aisle in the store sometimes gets confusing.  Hopefully you have a couple cans of beans in your pantry.  If not, just brag about your Texas style Chili… made without beans.  All those Chili competitions are won Texas style… no beans.

As to vegetables, extras… Onions, tomatoes (canned diced), bell peppers, celery… even carrots, zucchini or potatoes can make an interesting chili… Certainly not traditional, but would certainly be tasty and would keep you from having to go to the store.  How about serving on a plate, baked potato on the bottom, a ladle full of chili added and topped with some melted cheese???

And finally, as to spices… Well, simple Chili Powder is really all you need. But if you are out… One of those spice mixes that end up in your spice drawer will work.  Cajun, BBQ, Mediterranean… all would season fine.  But even adding a few TBS of a BBQ sauce would be just fine.

So there you go… Base of Tomato Soup, thinned with Stock or Beer, made hearty with Hamburger or sausage (or chicken), optional beans to stretch, load it up with a few vegetables and season to make this your own…

Stay inside, raid you pantry and make something that will indeed stick to your ribs and warm your soul!

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OK… Here’s what I did.  Feel free to make substitutions…

Pantry Chili 


2 Cups Tomato Soup (or Pasta Sauce, Thinned Tomato Paste, Canned Tomatoes or even Ketchup!)
2 Cups Chicken Stock (or Chicken Bouillon, Beef Stock, Beer or even Tea!)
2 lbs ground beef, browned and cooked through… fat drained (or Chicken, Steak, Roast, Sausage or Hot Dogs… Even Vegetarian!)
1 large onion, chopped (or Celery, Bell Peppers, Carrots, Zucchini or Potatoes!)
1 can of diced tomatoes (drained) (Optional)
2 cans of Beans or just about any type… Black Beans, Chili Beans, Pinto… What every ya got (drain and rinse beans)
3 Tbsp chili powder (or to taste) … Or spice mix of your choosing… or even BBQ Sauce


Brown hamburger and onion. Add remainder of ingredients and simmer. I use a crock pot for 3-4 hours. 
** If it is too thick, I add more Chicken Stock, if it is too soupy, I add tomato paste.

Serve HOT and ENJOY!!!

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