The turning over of the calendar and start of the new year brings such hope and excitement. We are starting new things, reaching ahead to set goals and pursue them, and adjusting from the indulgence of the holiday season. Are you craving healthier options just like us? This Chicken Sausage and Three Bean Chili is the perfect family dinner to ease into healthier eating while holding onto the comfort of a warm soup on cold January days.
Comfort + Healthy = a wonderful way to start the new year!
Southwest and Mexican flavors dominate here – this chili has some heat and a ton of flavor from jalapeno, spices, and chipotle sausage. The sausage and beans are hearty and healthy, full of protein, iron, and fiber. Tomatoes and chicken stock round everything out. This is delicious, simple to throw together, and endlessly adaptable to satisfy your own tastes. What could be better?
Make it Vegan
If you want a meat-free, vegetarian, or vegan meal, this recipe adapts brilliantly. Simply omit the sausage and substitute vegetable broth for the chicken stock. Omit dairy items like cheese and sour cream for a vegan chili that doesn’t sacrifice any flavor. You can also use vegan sausage or crumbled tofu in place of the chicken sausage to add more protein to your vegan chili.
It’s so delicious, I often use this option even though we don’t always eat vegan meals. Fun fact: we ate vegan for a few months after learning of some of the benefits and I (Kristen) loved how it made my body feel. While we didn’t continue with that as a family, I try to sneak in vegan meals once a week or so because I am such a huge fan of the flavors and physical benefits of eating this way. More veggies are always a good idea!
The Method for Making Chicken Sausage and Three Bean Chili
This is so straightforward, you can probably sleepwalk through it. But don’t. 🙂 Heat your pot and olive oil, then add your veggies until they soften. Add the sausage. Next comes the garlic and spices. Finally, the tomatoes, beans, and stock.
The process builds flavor in layers while making sure everything is cooked through. We have measurements for salt and pepper in the recipe, but you really should be lightly salting everything as you go. This brings out the best of every ingredient, helps with the cooking process, and ensures that each ingredient is properly seasoned. The result is so much better than adding a bunch of salt at the very end of the process!
Usually, just a pinch or two with each layer is good. I use a pinch on the veggies, then a couple of pinches with the beans, and another pinch or two with the stock. Taste often to make sure you aren’t oversalting, then you can make minor adjustments at the end of cooking, just before serving your chili.
A great resource on salt, its benefits, and using it properly is the book Salt Fat Acid Heat by Samin Nosrat. It’s a wonderful resource that we highly recommend!
Serve it Up
Your Chicken Sausage and Three Bean Chili will be great on its own, but you can kick it up a notch by topping it with cheese, sour cream, diced red onions or sliced green onions, or crumbled tortilla chips. Our Easy Drop Biscuits make a great side!
If you’re up for dessert (why quit cold turkey after the holidays?), try our Gingerbread Blondies, Apple Snacking Cake, or Lemon Bundt Cake for a sweet end to a spicy meal. Or for a dessert with a naturally limited portion, whip up Decadent Dark Chocolate Mug Cakes.You won’t be sad to have any of these around! It’s all about balance, right?
Chicken Sausage and Three Bean Chili
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced yellow onion (from 1 small onion)
- 2-3 tablespoons diced jalapeno
- 1/2 cup diced carrot
- 1/4 cup diced celery
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 (12 ounce) package chipotle chicken sausages (4 6-inch links) cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 2 (14-1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
- 1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can great northern beans drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 ounce) can black beans drained and rinsed
- 3-4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/4 cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt (or 1 teaspoon table salt)
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese
- Sour Cream
- Additional Cilantro
- Diced Red Onion or sliced green onion
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then saute the onion, jalapeno, carrot, and celery until the onion is translucent and the vegetables are soft. Throw in the sausage and saute until browned, stirring often. Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, chili powder, and oregano. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant, before adding the tomatoes, tomato sauce, beans, and chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the cilantro. Taste and add more salt as needed.
- Serve topped with shredded cheese and other toppings as desired.
- Make this a vegetarian chili by omitting the sausage and substituting vegetable broth for the chicken stock. Omit the cheese and sour cream as toppings. Or use vegan sausage, cheese, and sour cream.
- This makes a moderately spicy chili using Never Any! Chipotle Chicken Sausage from Aldi. Choose a milder or spicier sausage and adjust the amounts of jalapeno, red pepper flakes, and chili powder to suit your own tastes.
- If you can’t find Chipotle Chicken Sausage, feel free to substitute any sausage with a similar flavor profile.