Turkey Chili.


The cold weather has breached Chicago. It has breached me, actually, since my winter coat is currently being shipped from across the world.  So it’s me and a pea coat against the elements. I have found, living most of my life in the Chicagoland area and especially because I was spoiled for the last two years, that a lot of it is mental. If I even think for a second that this is cold in November, I am done for. Winters last through March here and after the Christmas cheer, they are only more menacing. Also, have you heard about the bomb cyclone? It’s this year’s polar vortex, only it is supposed to be worse. I can’t think about it. Again, it’s mental.


But you know what warms me up? A bowl of my Nonna’s Turkey Chili. What I love about it, is that it’s a comfort food. But unlike most comfort foods, it’s actually healthy. I feel good eating it and warm–two very important things right now. It’s hearty, delicious, and easy to make. Sometimes, when I am lucky, my nonna will surprise me with a frozen container of it. She cannot help but give me food every time I see her. She’s an Italian grandmother. But I also like making it myself. I like knowing it’s my Nonna’s recipe, once made with beef but now with Turkey to serve her health conscious family. And now I am making it. She stirred the same recipe I am stirring now. How incredible is that?

Another pro for this recipe, is the fact that it freezes and defrosts so easily. I can freeze it so that I can enjoy an ease free but home cooked meal while I look out at the city lights from my apartment window.

For me, Nonna’s Turkey Chili combines everything good about a recipe and food: tradition, health, and comfort.


Nina at Flowers in my Hair

Turkey Chili.


  • One 20oz pkg ground turkey
  • One large onion, chopped
  • Two or three cloves of garlic, chopped
  • One large green pepper, chopped
  • One 6oz. can of Contadina tomato paste
  • One 28oz. can of Italian plum peeled tomatoes
  • One tablespoon of chili powder, depending how hot you like it
  • Two 15oz. cans of dark red kidney beans that have been washed and drained


  1. Pour a small amount of olive oil in medium or large pot
  2. Place ground meat in pot making sure you mix thoroughly and separate
  3. When ground meat is cooked and browned, add chopped onion
  4. Continue browning, add chopped garlic, cook another 5 or 7 minutes
  5. Add chopped green peppers, cook another 7 or so minutes
  6. Add small can of tomato paste,
  7. Fill that can with water and pour in pot, mixing thoroughly
  8. Add large can of Italian Plum peeled tomatoes, making sure to crush the tomatoes with smasher or fork
  9. Again fill that can and add about 3/4 of the can of water into mixture
  10. Add chili powder,
  11. Add washed and drained kidney beans, mix
  12. When thoroughly mixed, put cover on pot and cook for about hour and half to two hours,
  13. checking pot to see if mixture is too thick. If so, add a little more water, mix and continue
  14. cooking.
  15. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Nina grew up speaking and eating Italian in the Chicagoland area. She moved to San Francisco for two years and, knowing she was always meant to be a writer, finally decided to share some of that writing with the world through blogging. There you will find her chronicling her adventures and misadventures (and isn't there such loveliness in mistakes and learning and growing?). If you ever go shopping with her, you will often hear her say, "We could totally make that!" Now, she is back in Chicago, with a real kitchen to cook authentic Italian food and other creations and space to do-it-herself. She finds it best to do all these things–writing, cooking, crafting, reading, adventuring–while laughing which is her favorite thing to do.

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