Pantry Chili

By Larry Krummel © 2017

Easy to make and easy to have the ingredients available.

Makes about 8 servings. Even better the next day.


3 cans Campbell’s Tomato Soup

3 cans Dark Kidney Beans (S&W)

3 cans Stewed Tomatoes (S&W)

Stewed tomatoes will come in different flavors (pick one you like)

1 lb. Hamburger

1 large Onion

1 green or red Pepper

2 tbsp. Butter

1/3 cup Heinz Ketchup (This is opposed to the tomato paste often used. It gives a different texture and taste and is always available.)

½ cup of your house Cabernet (probably more)

Chili Powder to taste

Garlic Powder to taste (not garlic salt)

You will want to control the saltiness and the garliciness individually.

Salt/Pepper to taste


Use large heavy bottom pot or very large skillet

Slice and dice onion

Place butter in pot and after melted, place onions in pot over median heat. Wait for onions to become golden brown. Remove onions from pot and set aside.

Use small portion of wine to deglaze pot.

Add the hamburger and cook through.

Suck off the excess grease and then toss the grease.

Use small portion of wine to deglaze pot. All of the “deglazed” particles become part of the chili

Add your normal amount of Salt and Pepper to the hamburger. Also some garlic power and some chili powder to get into the meat itself. Now cook on low heat while opening cans.

Open the cans and drain off the kidney beans

Place soup, tomatoes and kidney beans into pot over medium heat.

Stir as needed and bring to a slow bubble.

Add the fresh ingredients: pepper and onion

After bringing to a slow boil, reduce heat to a simmer.

Add spices and taste, see Layering below to control flavor

Add remaining ingredients; rest of wine and ketchup .

Cover and cook about 15 minutes and sample.

Based on your taste, add more wine, ketchup and spices. I always need more.

Cover and cook another 15 minutes and then sample again. May need to repeat above.

Leave on stove at lowest heat until ready to serve. Stir once in a while to prevent burning.


The cook should have an equal amount of wine as put in the chili. This is why a good house red is needed as opposed to a cheap rotgut often used for cooking.


Since the cooking for this recipe will often be performed by the home’s backup cook, one rule to reduce conflict. Do NOT use the stirring spoon to sample the chili. Use the stirring spoon to put a small amount into a bowl and a second spoon to sample with. I know that the food is boiling and this should kill most of the germs. It is just that the other members of the household may be less understanding. Keeping this in mind, before opening the wine, is also important.

Layered Cooking

It is easy to prepare a recipe as written. It is better to prepare a food to your own taste. Chili is sensitive to a wide range of spices (chili powder, garlic powder, salt, pepper). In this Pantry Chili recipe, there are two more components; texture (see below) and proportion. The cook can control the amount of major ingredients by a layering approach. In this case this means adding a “layer” of beans, tomato soup and

diced tomatoes and then taste. Add your desired amount of spices and re-test. Too little of a spice is easy to correct but too much is harder. If the food is prepared in layers, another layer can be added and the “over spice” can be skipped on the next layer. In the recipe there are three potential layers and spices can be adjusted both for over and under. It even allows reduction in the main variable ingredients (beans, diced tomatoes and tomato soup).

Texture The five main taste senses are purported to be: spicy, sweet, salty, sour/bitter and umami (look it up). For many recipes, a critical component is “texture”. There are studies that indicate that the success of Heinz Ketchup is based on texture. In the case of Pantry Chili, the last step in the layering process is adding Heinz Ketchup . Once the ketchup is stirred in, the flavors will change mainly because the texture has changed.