Spicy Squash & Black Bean Chili.

When I was invited to do the A Spoon & A Chili recipe contest through Marx Foods, I did realize that I would have to show some creativity and come up with my own recipe. {I’m a gal who likes to bake with a specific recipe, usually developed by some successful baker, taped to the cabinet in front of me during the baking process so that I can consult it numerous times. That said, I still find baking to be quite relaxing.}  Coming up with my own recipe – and utilizing chilies – was totally out of my comfort zone. To make things crazier, Marx Foods sent me six exotic chilies.  Some of them quite hot.

different types of chilies

I’d heard of two of them before (Serrano and Thai), but never cooked with any of them. {Aren’t they beautiful chilies though? I love just looking at them.} I thought that I would try out a savory and a sweet dish with them this week. Now, this could have turned into a potentially semi-dangerous assignment for myself, but luckily Marx Foods offers information, a chili heat index, and some recipes to use as inspiration on their blog.

I know it’s not earth-shatteringly original, but I decided to go with a savory squash and black bean chili. I heated up a pan and coated it with oil, adding a chopped onion, red pepper, and cubed squash.

Next, I decided to grind up two Smoked Serrano Chilies. (Marx Foods gives a good description of this here.) They are a medium heat chili with a smokey flavor, which I thought would meld well in a chili.

Remove the stems. I kept most of the seeds in mine, but you could remove them if you wanted less heat.

{Hopefully, my coffee grinder will come clean……}

Along with the Smoked Serrano chili powder, I added cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and salt.

chili spices

Added some chicken broth.

And about three cups of cooked black beans.

And the essential item, crushed tomatoes. I tasted this chili without the tomatoes and it was quite hot. I kept thinking, what do the ‘extremely hot’ Thai chilies taste like?! I even made a call to a friend moaning about it. However, the tomato addition along with a slow simmer produced a great flavor. The Serrano was smokey without being too hot, and the coriander/cinnamon combination left a  fruity aftertaste to the chili. So each bite was smokey followed by sweet. The squash and red pepper held their shape, but were tender. I liked this soup a lot.

Even since Dorie suggested adding roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) to soup, I’ve been tossing them in all my bowls.

Spicy Squash & Black Bean Chili

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large red pepper, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon smoked Serrano chili powder (two dried chilies, ground)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 cups cubed squash (I used delicata, but butternut or even sweet potatoes would work)
  • 3 cups cooked black beans
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
  • roasted pumpkin seeds as a garnish (optional)


1. Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the onions and red pepper. Saute until softened, about ten minutes.

2. Add garlic and spices. Cook for 1-2 minutes.

3. Add squash, black beans, bay leaf, broth, and crushed tomatoes. Bring to boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer and partially cover pot with a lid. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

4. Ladle into bowls and top with roasted pumpkin seeds.

About Sarah

Always thinking about my next meal.
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6 Responses to Spicy Squash & Black Bean Chili.

  1. Libby says:

    Oh, I love pepitas! What a great combo, and the squash is a fantastic twist on a classic chili. (I’m about to sneak some leftover pumpkin puree into my next pot of turkey chili…) This is the recipe from the contest that I’m most likely to make myself, so far. Good luck!

  2. Pingback: VOTE: A Chili & A Spoon Contest! « daily nibbles

  3. Joan Nova says:

    That looks seriously delicious and satisfying, especially with the crunch of the pepitas.

  4. Jacky says:

    Recipe looks delicious. LOVE the photos! Good luck.

  5. Joanna says:

    Ooh jealous! I didn’t get smoked serrano chilies in my box! I’m going to have to order some :)

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