Soup’er Bowl Food – Cincinnati Style Chili

Soup’er Bowl Foods

With Super Bowl XLVIII quickly approaching, I wanted today’s soup to be something hearty enough to sustain you while you’re cheering for your favorite team. Even if you aren’t a football fan, as I am not, you may likely find yourself either attending or hosting a party this Sunday. With that in mind, I’m dedicating this week’s recipes to dishes that can be enjoyed by Seattle and Denver fans alike. Go Hawks! (My husband made me add that last part.)


Moving around the country as much as we do, I’ve been able to taste a wide variety of chilies. It seems that everyone has their own unique recipe with a “secret” ingredient they’ve vowed never to share, not even under the threat of torture. I am one of those people. When I was writing this blog, I did a lot of soul searching as to whether or not I wanted to post my chili recipe. There are very few recipes that I don’t share, and this is one. I considered including an abbreviated version, leaving out a few key ingredients, but alas, my conscience got the better of me. So here it is, folks, the full, unadulterated version of my Cincinnati Style Chili.

Cincinnati Style Chili

Serves 8

  • 1½ lbs. ground Beef (20% fat)
    1 lb. ground hot Italian sausage
    1 Tbsp. olive oil
    1 white onion, chopped
    2 green peppers, chopped
    3 celery stalks, chopped
    2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
    1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
    1 6 oz. can pesto/basil tomato paste
    2 bay leaves
    1 can of light beer, preferably a lager
    2 Tbsp. dark molasses
    4 cups homemade beef stock (see recipe in Homemade Stocks)
    2 cans dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
    1 Tbsp. flour
    3 Tbsp. water
    Chili Spice Blend (recipe below)
    Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

In a heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, brown the ground meats in two separate batches. Drain and set aside.

In a large stock pot, sauté onion, peppers, and celery in olive oil until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add diced tomatoes (breaking apart with hands) and juice, tomato paste, minced garlic, bay leaves, and molasses. Add ¼ cup Chili Spice Blend. Stir and cook until the juices from the tomatoes thicken and become bubbly, about 5-8 minutes.

Add beer and cook until liquid reduces by half, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in beef stock and reserved meat and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer. In a separate bowl or shaker cup, mix flour and water to create a “slurry” — you’ll want to whisk or shake the mixture until flour has dissolved and the slurry is smooth with no clumps remaining. Add to chili. Taste and season with salt & pepper and more Chili Spice Blend as needed.

Partially cover and simmer for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. 15 minutes before removing from heat, add drained beans and continue to cook.

Pour chili into crockpot and stir in dried kidney beans, cover, and set on LOW heat for 8 hours.

*This chili is best when made a day ahead, as time in the refrigerator allows the flavors to marry and the chili to thicken.* Pour chili into a storage container and chill, uncovered, until cool. Cover and continue to chill overnight.

Reheat slowly over medium heat, stirring often so that chili doesn’t burn to the bottom of pot. Remove bay leaves. Taste and season with salt & pepper and more Chili Spice Blend if needed.

Chili Spice Blend


This recipe makes about ¾ cup of seasoning. I use the entire ¾ cup in my chili, but start by adding ¼ cup at a time, then add more as you see fit. 

In a bowl or small jar, mix the following ingredients:

2 Tbsp. each of:
brown sugar
coco powder

1 Tbsp. each of:
chili powder
dried oregano

1tsp. each of:
cayenne pepper
garlic powder

½ tsp. each of:
red-pepper flakes


  • You’re gonna want a beer with this chili! Not only is it a Super Bowl tradition, but beer will cut the heat you’re likely feeling after a few bites. Try a German hefeweizen, who’s banana notes pair well with the sweeter spices, or another light beer, such as a lager or pilsner. If you’re not a beer drinker, uncork a bottle of zinfandel instead.
  • Also, cornbread. But not the overly sweet stuff you get from a box-mix. The recipe below is quick and easy, and can hold up against the weight of this chili.

Savory Skillet Cornbread


The addition of red bell peppers, leeks, and savory spices makes a nice accompaniment to this hearty chili. If you don’t have a cast-iron skillet, use a 9-inch square baking pan. (This recipe has been adapted from Everyday Food)

4 Tbsp. butter
2 cups stone-ground yellow cornmeal
3 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. herbs d’provence (dried rosemary or thyme can be substituted)
2 large eggs
2 cups low-fat buttermilk
½ red bell pepper, diced
½ leek, white and light green parts only, diced
fresh cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 425°. Put butter, peppers, and leeks in a 9-inch cast-iron skillet; place in oven until butter is melted and peppers and leeks are soft, about 5-8 minutes.


Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk cornmeal, sugar, baking soda, herbs d’provence, black pepper, and salt. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and buttermilk.

Carefully remove hot skillet from oven; immediately pour butter, red peppers, and leeks into the buttermilk mixture, and whisk to combine. Using a pastry brush, coat bottom and sides with remaining butter.

Stir cornmeal mixture into buttermilk mixture until just moistened. Scrape batter into hot skillet; bake until golden, about 25 minutes. Let cool at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.


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