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Dickinson Chili

The website Bad Manners has great, simple vegan recipes. I’ve alternated making my Mom’s Chili with a version of their Pumpkin Chili for cold-weather dinners for at least four years.

So why “Dickinson” as the name for the adaptation? That’s the variety of winter squash used in canned pumpkin. This is a half-hour chili, not a long-simmered one.

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (10 oz.) tomatoes with green chilies
  • 2 15 oz cans beans, same or mixed such as black and red kidney, undrained, unrinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can pureed pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup bulgur wheat, optional
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2-3 teaspoons mild chili powder or taco seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon whole or ground cumin
  • 2-3 teaspoons oregano or Italian spice blend
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, to start
  • Hot water
  • 1 Tablespoon lime or lemon juice
  1. Put broth or water in large saucepan or Dutch oven and bring to boil.
  2. Cut onion, carrot and bell pepper into bean-size pieces and add to pot. Add nearly all the remaining ingredients — through salt and pepper — return to a boil, lower to simmer and cover.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally, 15 or more minutes. Add some hot water to thin as needed to chili consistency.
  4. Chili is done when carrots and optional bulgur are soft. Taste, adding more salt and pepper if desired. Remove from heat, wait a couple of minutes, then add lime/lemon juice.
  5. Serve with the gang’s favorite chili toppings — chips, fresh chopped cilantro, catsup etc. Leftovers make great lunches.

Makes 4 generous servings.


  • I keep low- or no-salt vegetable broth powder as a pantry staple from a natural food store. When needed, it’s 1 teaspoon per cup water.
  • The carrot’s sweetness balances the other flavors. Using a big carrot though calls attention to itself. This is chili, not just another stew.
  • The tomato-green chili blend is popularly Rotel, but other brands generally are fine. I prefer the mild to the original etc. as I can always add more heat, or set a bottle of hot sauce at the table. Also, I add a little warm water to the just-emptied cans of Rotel, pumpkin and the beans, to rinse and pour into the pot – no wasting all that goodness.
  • Any winter squash is fine, fresh or frozen, but it must be cooked and pureed before adding. A pound or less. Do not use pumpkin pie filling.
  • The bulgur wheat gives the appearance of ground beef and adds great texture to the chili.
  • Optionally one could saute or braise the onion, carrot and bell pepper first, adding the garlic in the last 30 seconds. With all the other flavors swirling around, the mirepoix-like prep gets lost, to me.

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