Gold Rush Chili

by on September 26, 2007
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Gold Rush Chili: Vegan, low-fat chili with black beans and butternut squash

I apologize for my absence from blogging for the last week, but it’s hard to write about cooking when you haven’t been doing any. We’ve been going through a family crisis (not serious, just time-consuming) that began last Friday, and since then, the whole family has been completely exhausted, both mentally and physically, and no one has been up for cooking, so we’ve been eating take-out and packaged foods–neither great food nor healthy food. When you’re that tired, you don’t really care what you put in your stomach. To give you an idea of how bad it’s been, here are the past few days’ dinners:

Friday–Papa John’s pizza (veggie, no cheese–vegan)
Saturday–Taco Bell (bean burritos, no cheese–vegan)
Sunday–Gimme Lean sausage burgers (E and I) and Tofu Pups with canned chili (D)
Monday–Red beans (from a can) and rice (I actually cooked the brown rice!)

What’s really sad is that we had plans last Friday to join our local veg meet-up group at Cool Al’s for the best veggie burgers in the world but had to cancel. Oh, the joys of parenthood! (Sorry to be mysterious, but E has threatened to disown me if I breathe a word about what happened on my blog; suffice it to say that the situation, while still time-consuming, is under control.)

Until last night, I hadn’t really cooked anything since my omelette last Thursday morning. But I was determined to make the time to cook us a healthy meal, and I’d been planning this chili for about two weeks. It’s actually a very easy recipe, once you prepare the butternut squash.

Preparing Butternut Squash

I used to avoid recipes with chopped, uncooked winter squash because it seemed like so much work to peel and chop it. But I’ve found it’s very easy to handle if you first cut the squash into sections and then use a serrated peeler to remove the skin. First, slice off the stem at the top. Then, cut the squash in half crosswise, just at the base of the “neck.” Then stand each half upright and slice it in half vertically. Use a grapefruit spoon to scrape out the seeds in the cavity sections, and then cut them in half again. Peel each section, using the peeler or a good paring knife. Then chop into cubes.


Gold Rush Chili: Vegan, low-fat chili with black beans and butternut squash

Kid-friendly note: E opted to take the leftovers for lunch today, so this one gets a thumbs-up from her.

Gold Rush Chili: Vegan, low-fat chili with beans and butternut squash

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anonymous September 19, 2009 at 11:16 am

This is one of our favorite recipes, in that we can feed it to anyone and it's universally liked, even praised. No one, not even our most avowedly carnivorous friends, thinks to ask whether it has meat and no has a clue about its fat content. When people ask for the recipe – and they do – they are always surprised by one element or the other (no oil, no meat).


2 c December 20, 2009 at 10:46 am

I would love to make this and purchased a packed of already cut and peeled squash from Costco. Do you know about how many cups one butternut squash would yield?


3 SusanV December 20, 2009 at 10:51 am

C, the recipe is pretty flexible. I would aim for about 2 cups of squash cubes, but I think it could absorb even more. Just use what you have. Hope you enjoy it!


4 Hannah December 25, 2009 at 8:49 pm

I made this for my family's potluck Christmas dinner tonight as an option for myself and two other vegetarians in the family – and it was a hit even among non-vegetarians! I added more garlic, spices, and a bit of red pepper flakes to give it a kick, and I got several compliments from the meat-eaters (which, as you probably know, is usually a big deal – ha). Thank you and Happy Holidays!


5 Lee December 31, 2009 at 6:35 pm

Yummy! I used fire roasted crushed tomatoes and baked butternut squash that was sleeping in my freezer. The squash did break down but didn't hurt the finished chilli. Maybe the baked squash gave the dish extra flavor? I think I will add extra beans some time and serve this as a dip with tortilla chips.


6 Kelly February 18, 2010 at 12:06 pm

I am in LOVE with this recipe. This is the second time I've made it and even my furthest-thing-from-vegan housemates loved it. I was just wondering how much you would consider to be a serving because I didn't make the whole recipe this time but I didn't exactly half it either so I'm trying to figure out just how many calories I'm actually eating when I get seconds and thirds of this! Thanks


7 SusanV February 18, 2010 at 12:16 pm

Kelly, this is just a guess because I don't measure the servings (I base the number of servings on how many helpings my family actually gets out of a recipe). But based on the ingredients and from measuring the size of my bowl, I'd say a serving is between 1 1/2 and 1 3/4 cups. Hope that helps!


8 Bex June 21, 2010 at 4:06 pm

I simply adore this recipe, and it is one I keep going back to. I (like other commenters) have served this to meat eaters and non meat eaters, and have yet to find someone who doesn’t like this.


9 Maggie Sadler January 10, 2011 at 4:37 pm

I’m going to try this on Friday. Wish me luck. M


10 Lois Gowen January 30, 2011 at 7:59 pm

I just made Gold Rush Chili for the first time, and it won’t be the last time. We have a new favorite. Outside of preparing the squash, it is an easy recipe and so very, very tasty. Thanks for all of your work. Lois


11 Annie J February 18, 2011 at 11:44 am

Just made this again for the 2nd or 3rd time– one of my all-time favorite ways to eat Butternut squash or pumpkin!! Thanks for another WINNER, Susan!!


12 l3jwedel April 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Loved this recipe. Incredible flavor. Thanks for all of the inspiration with your recipes. I have been revamping my lifestyle since Jan, and your site keeps me going 🙂


13 Julie & Marty August 4, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I made this recipe over the weekend and it was a delight. The squash really didn’t add that much to the flavor, I didn’t feel, but it added a richness and an extra chew factor, making it more “meaty”. Very nice dish, will make again.


14 Audrey Q November 30, 2011 at 9:17 am

This sounds yummy. How long would you cook if you were using a pressure cooker? I’m often on a tight time budget in the evening to get dinner ready after picking up the little guy at some activity or another.


15 Susan Voisin November 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

If I were going to do it in a pressure cooker, I would do step 2 for about 7 minutes at high pressure and then add the beans (step 3) and cook for another 5 minutes under pressure. Then I’d check to make sure the squash was tender and the flavors combined. If it needs more time, I would cook it without pressure so that the beans don’t turn to mush.


16 Damel November 11, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Im so glad i found your site…. I’m new at the Vegan cooking and your recipes has me excited!
What would you suggest i substitute the pepper and chillies with? The people I’m cooking for doesn’t eat hot or spicy…. perhaps more garlic and herbs?
Im making this for lunch tomorrow, i will let you know how it went.


17 Kellie January 6, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Susan — another one of your recipes that’s found its way into our regular rotation. We garnish with chopped green onion and toasted pumpkin seeds. Love it!


18 Jim January 10, 2013 at 12:03 pm

This was satisfying like chicken soup (which I no longer eat) and split pea soup on a winter day. 2 variations I made: 2 tsp cinnamon & I used dal (Indian lentil) for the bean. Add them when the liquid goes in & you can use dried dal. Also, I don’t use salt – never miss it. This recipe does not suffer without it. My wife (no vegan!) asked for extra helpings. …got a good winter hug from this soup, as well. Thanks!


19 Zoe Sodjda September 24, 2013 at 9:54 am

Sounds yummy but: Cutting up a winter squash is so difficult, the squash is so hard! Any suggestions?


20 Susan Voisin September 24, 2013 at 10:44 am

You can make it softer by microwaving or baking the whole squash slightly. It doesn’t have to be cooked all the way through, just enough to soften it.


21 Carolyn September 24, 2013 at 10:24 am

Sounds delicious! But not entirely sure if I’ll find Mexican oregano here in Scotland… Will substituting regular oregano work by chance?


22 Susan Voisin September 24, 2013 at 10:43 am

The flavor is slightly different but should be fine. Hope you enjoy it!


23 Chelsea September 24, 2013 at 10:46 am

I’m really excited to try this recipe now that it’s officially fall and cooling down quite a bit up in Michigan. Thank you for posting it, I’m sure it will be fantastic!


24 K September 24, 2013 at 9:54 pm

I am so excited to try this recipe! But I have very little time in the evenings so I’m interested in making this in the crockpot… do you have any suggestions on how to do so? I’m thinking of cooking it on medium for about 4-6 hours…or would that be too long?



25 Susan Voisin September 24, 2013 at 9:58 pm

I think it would be better to cook it on low. 4-6 hours would probably be about right.


26 Kate September 26, 2013 at 9:09 am

I made this for supper last night to use up some butternut squash leftover from last week’s CSA share. Then I had a second supper of it later on. Then I woke this morning craving this chili. It is THAT good.


27 Erin October 11, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Hi! This recipe looks sooo good. Do you think this recipe would freeze well? I do mostly once a month cooking and am looking for new recipes to add. thanks!!


28 Susan Voisin October 11, 2013 at 8:51 pm

Yes, it should freeze just fine. Hope you enjoy it.


29 Sarah R October 10, 2014 at 9:52 pm

This is now our favorite go-to chili. It is absolutely delicious. I served it with these cornmeal biscuits.
I made a few additions to suit our tastes: cut the garlic in half, added 4 little hot yellow peppers, 1 Tbsp cocoa powder, and about 1/4 cup of ketchup. It sounds weird, but the cocoa adds a smokey, bitter node and the ketchup adds thickening and a subtle vinegar bite and sweetness. And I didn’t have a butternut squash, so I used a small yellow crookneck squash. Amazing versatile recipe. Thanks!


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