Autumn is one of my favorite times of year.  The weather has cooled off just enough that my outside chores don’t leave me feeling completely exhausted, but there is still enough sunshine to keep me from feeling the winter blues.  

It is also a great season for cooking. There are so many wonderful fruits and vegetables are ready to harvest. The cooler weather means your kitchen won’t overheat while you’re baking and cooking delicious meals for your family.

This Hearty Sweet Potato Chili is a great way to warm up on a chilly autumn evening. I used fresh oregano and green peppers from my garden. The onions, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes from the local farmer’s market. The combination of sweet and savory really makes this chili unique. Add extra cayenne pepper or your favorite hot pepper if you like your chili to have a little kick.

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Why did I decide to put sweet potatoes in chili?

Let me start by saying that I was never a fan of sweet potatoes. My only experience was with sweet potato casserole during Thanksgiving. You know the kind with pecans, marshmallows, and tons of sugar?

In my mind, sweet potatoes were sweet to the point of making me sick.

Then my husband and I both lost our jobs. We had zero income to pay our bills, and I was forced to visit a local food bank.

They gave me a pound of frozen hamburger. My produce choices were moldy strawberries and sweet potatoes. I chose the sweet potatoes.

But how was I going to stretch a pound of hamburger and some sweet potatoes to feed us as many meals as possible?

I had a venison chili recipe that was a favorite of my husband’s. Between what I had gotten at the food pantry, and what I already had on hand, I had all of the ingredients to make chili. The diced sweet potatoes would also help to stretch the chili so we could get more servings out of one batch.

But how would it taste?

As a sweet vegetable, I’m not overly fond of eating sweet potatoes by themselves; however, they are phenomenal when paired savory and even slightly spicy foods.

In fact, the sweet potatoes help to add another dimension to the chili. They help to tone down any heat, while also making it a slightly lighter dish. We won’t even mention how much healthier the chili becomes.

Sweet potato chili simmering in the pot. The perfect combination of savory and sweet.

Simply put, I now make all of my chili with sweet potatoes. They are a plentiful vegetable, especially here in the south, so it reduces my costs. I can cook one batch, and it’ll make enough servings to feed us for a couple of meals. It’s great for leftovers because chili reheats so easily. And it just makes for a delicious bowl of chili.

Hearty Sweet Potato Chili

Hearty Sweet Potato Chili

Yield: 6
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

This Hearty Sweet Potato Chili is a great way to warm up on a chilly autumn evening. I used fresh oregano and green peppers from my garden and onions, sweet potatoes and tomatoes from the local farmer's market. The combination of sweet and savory really makes this chili unique. Add extra cayenne pepper if you like your chili to have a little kick.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 15.5 oz can red kidney beans
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, pealed and diced
  • 1 1/2 c beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt & pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot (3 qt or larger), brown the ground beef over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, pepper, and garlic.
  3. Saute until the onions and pepper are tender.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and bring the chili to simmer.
  5. Reduce the temperature and cover.
  6. Simmer until the sweet potatoes are tender.
  7. Serve hot with shredded cheddar cheese and saltine crackers, if desired.

Notes

This recipe can easily be adapted to the slow cooker. Brown the meat, onions, pepper and garlic as above in a saute pan, then add to the slow cooker. Add all of the ingredients except for the sweet potatoes. Cook on low for 6-8 hours, adding the sweet potatoes during the last 30 minutes of the cooking time.

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