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Kid Friendly Chili Recipe – A Fall Favorite

Kid Friendly Chili finished productWhen the leaves begin to change colors and the air gets a bit nippier, over the sounds of the rejoicing that it is no longer bathing suit season, I hear the call of a hot pot of chili.  Chili is a go-to fall meal in our house, with it’s rich tomato base, flavorful ground beef, and protein packed kidney beans.  It works after a weekend of raking leaves or after a brisk walk through the pumpkin patch.  It’s delicious after a prosperous night of trick or treating, or as a day before Thanksgiving meal – hearty, warm, and delicious without taking up too much of the room you’ll need for turkey.

I am not a fan of spicy foods, and normally, chili would not be a dish I would ever order out.  But my mom put together this recipe – the one she’s been using since we were all little – and it really is the perfect kid-friendly chili.  You don’t have to worry about too much spice – the chili powder in this rendition of a classic favorite is really used just to enhance flavor, not spice things up.  Kids won’t burn their tiny tongues eating this version, and even further, if you’ve had gastric bypass surgery and are only recently treading the waters of solid food, this won’t irritate your stomach with the bite of hot peppers.

This recipe easily feeds 6 people, especially with a crusty roll.  Add a salad, and you could probably get 8 bowls.

Simmering Kid Friendly Chili

2 – 3 green peppers chopped

1 medium onion chopped

2 pounds ground beef

1 large can kidney beans

1 can tomato soup with one can water

1 large can whole tomatoes crushed by hand

1 ½ teaspoon chili powder (or more if you like)



Fry meat, onions, and peppers in a large skillet.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Drain all fat off when finished.  In a large pot, mix all other ingredients.  Heat until meat is finished frying.  Season with chili powder (the amount above will make the chili mildly flavored, so add more if you like to spice it up a bit).  When meat is finished cooking, add it to the large pot.  Simmer on low heat for one hour covered and then one hour uncovered.

Kid Friendly Chili Recipe

My mom is not one for spicy foods, and whenever we were away from home, chili was always this spicy, inedible stew-like concoction that none of us kids would eat.  But my mom managed to make it so that it was simple, flavorful, and friendly toward kid palates.

My oldest daughter was a bit on the picky side when she ate, and I think for a while, we called this hot dog soup.  Soup she would eat.  The kidney beans looked like hot dogs.  And on appearance alone, she wouldn’t touch it.  But the familiar ingredients and flavors won over even Brighid.

So here is chili, the way my mom taught us.


2-3 Green Bell Peppers, Diced

1 Medium Onion, Diced (we use sweet onions when we can find them)

2 pounds ground beef

1 can tomato soup (plus the one can of water)

1 large can of crushed tomatoes

1 large can of kidney beans

chili powder to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Starting with a small bit of oil in a pan, saute peppers and onions.

You’ll want to keep them going until the onions start to become translucent and the peppers become tender.

Add your meat, salt, pepper, and chili powder.  Because this is for the kids to enjoy, I usually only put about a tablespoon to a tablespoon and a half of chili powder in when I cook it.  If Jim wants it spicier, he can add Tabasco later on.

I find that by enlisting the help of the kids, they are usually more willing to try new flavors and tastes.  You might even sneak a few vegetables into a dish if they’ve helped make it!

Cook meat and vegetables until the meat is brown, then drain everything.

In a large pot, place your tomato soup, can of water, crushed tomatoes, and kidney beans.  Heat on medium until the meat mixture is brown, and then add the meat to the pot.

Simmer on low to medium with a cover on the pot for one hour.  Remove the cover, and simmer uncovered for another hour.  Stir occasionally just to make sure nothing is burning or sticking on the bottom.

We always serve ours with fresh rolls from Del Buono’s Bakery in Haddon Heights, NJ – you can get them hot off out of the oven, grabbed with your very own soon to be blistered fingers!

And the finished product –

This super easy, seasonal favorite is great for freezing, so I usually double the recipe and have some for another “chilly” evening.

And for gastric bypass post – ops – this is an easy to eat food.  I break the meat down as small as I can, so it rarely gets stuck, and I cook everything until it’s nice and tender, so even the veggies won’t give you a hard time.  It’s packed with protein and fiber, and with the mild spices, very pouch friendly!