Vegetarian Pumpkin chili with dark chocolate

Pumpkin Chili Bowls

Yes, this easy vegetarian chili contains chocolate! I just add a very small amount of very dark chocolate to give this dish a deep flavor. My chili is rich, hearty, and robust, and it even impresses my meat eating friends and family. You can eat it any way you like. I love to serve it in a bowl with quinoa, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, and quick pickled onions (and with tortillas on the side), whereas my daughter Flo likes to turn the chili into a burrito.

My chili is rich hearty, and robust, and it even impresses my meat eating friends and family.

Oh, and don’t forget to check out my FIRST stop-motion video below. It was a lot of fun to make. I succeeded with a little help from my daughter and from Stevie Wonder :-).

Pumpkin chili with dark chocolate

Since the skin of a small orange pumpkin becomes soft after cooking, I hardly ever peel it. However, if you are using butternut squash or a piece of a big orange pumpkin with a tougher skin I would recommend peeling it. This chili will taste even better the next day!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings: 4
Author: Tal Maes – Kitchen Table Food


  • 1 small orange pumkin (cleaned about 700 g / 1.5 lb)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large green bell pepper seeds removed and diced
  • optional: 1 green chili pepper finely chopped (seeds removed if you like it less hot)
  • tbsp chili powder
  • tsp ground cumin
  • tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp hot smoked paprika (pimentón de la vera) or chipotle powder
  • 2 (400 g / 14 oz) cans chopped tomatoes
  • 225 ml / 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (400 g / 15 oz) can black beans rinsed and drained
  • 1 (400 g / 15 oz) can kidney beans rinsed and drained
  • 2-3 small pieces of dark chocolate (85% cocoa) broken or chopped into smaller pieces


  • 2 ripe avocados diced
  • several tbsp of sour cream
  • several handfuls of cilantro leaves
  • lime juice
  • quick pickled red onions see note

Serve with

  • cooked quinoa or rice, (whole wheat) tortillas


  • Cut the pumpkin into half, remove the seeds and strings, and cut the flesh into 1.5 cm / ½ inch cubes. 
  • Parboil the pumpkin in salted water for 2-3 minutes. Drain the pumpkin. 
  • Heat the oil in a large pot and sauté the onion and garlic 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and, if using, the chili pepper and sauté for 1 more minute. Add the spices and cook briefly. Mix in the pumpkin, chopped tomatoes, and broth. 
  • Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down and cover the pan. Let simmer for about 30 minutes (this helps the flavors to develop), stir every now and then. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the beans, stir, and let simmer for 10 more minutes, until the chili has slightly thickened. Finally mix in the chocolate. Stir well until the chocolate has melted completely. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  • Ladle into bowls together with some cooked quinoa or rice. Top with avocado, sour cream, cilantro, lime juice, and pickled red onion (see note). Serve with tortillas.


Quick pickled red onions
To me, a chili is not complete without these bright red onions. You can make them in no time. Put a sliced red onion into a bowl and add 2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar. Add some salt, toss, and let marinate for at least 10-15 minutes. That’s it! You can make a small batch if you like and keep it in the fridge for a week or so. The longer you let the onions marinate, the more pink they will get.

Hungry for more?

Hungry for more vegetarian recipes with pumpkin? Check out My Vegetarian Thanksgiving Dinner and my Pumpkin Bread.

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