Classic Homestyle Chili

It’s been a cold couple of weeks here in southern China. Made even colder by the fact that central heating is an uncommon occurrence here. We’ve got some space heaters, but the buildings are all made entirely of cement, and our floors are marble, and there’s zero insulation, so the cold really seeps in and stays. We bundled up as best we could and cranked the heat and put on our warmest socks and slippers, but I was still really craving something warm and comforting.

Enter this classic homestyle chili. Normally, when I’m wanting chili, I like to spice it up a little. Go for something non-traditional. Maybe a nice white chili. Or a black bean pumpkin chili. Or toss in some extra veggies to  make it a little healthier. But this time, I just wanted straight-up chili. No bells or whistles. Just a hot, steaming bowl of pure comfort.


And oh my goodness. This one hit it out of the park. ?? ?? ??

I was completely blown away by this humble little bowl of chili. It looks a little plain, I know, but it was everything. EVERYTHING, you hear me?! The perfect amount of heat, the perfect blend of flavor, the perfect hearty texture chockfull of beans and meat. Perfect, perfect, perfect. This was exactly what my heart was hoping for. Originally we halved the recipe because we didn’t feel we needed a giant batch between just the two of us, but we loved it so much we immediately realized we would need more. We ate it for two nights and then made another full batch just a few days later. We’re still not sick of it.

So for any of you stuck in the cold ❄️ ❄️❄️(it’s warmed up considerably here, thankfully), or anyone needing a hot bowl of comfort, give this one a try. You won’t be sorry.

Classic Homestyle Chili

Adapted slightly from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Classic Homestyle Chili
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10-12 servings
  • 2 medium (or 1 large) yellow onions, diced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 2 large cans (29 oz each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large can (29 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 46 oz tomato juice
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ cup of water
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  1. In a large pot, brown the ground beef with the onions and salt until the meat is cooked through. Drain the excess grease, if needed.
  2. Turn off the heat and add in the beans, tomato juice, tomato sauce, and ketchup. Stir to combine. Stir in the bay leaves, water, garlic salt, pepper, chili powder, cayenne pepper, ground cumin, and brown sugar.
  3. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring, then reduce to medium-low. Simmer, partially covered, for an hour, stirring occasionally.


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