Friday, October 29

Onion-free and garlic-free pumpkin chili

I have a confession to make: we eat far more onions and garlic than we're supposed to.  If you've checked out our Restricted Foods page, you've seen the explanation blurb in the Foods Not Yet Assessed section regarding the Allium family.  Up until now, we've been loathe to cut out onions and garlic from our diet because we like their flavor and, quite frankly, it's kind of intimidating cooking without onion or garlic.  I mean, it's rare that a savory recipe doesn't include one or both.  However, according to all the sites I've read on Porphyria and sulfur sensitivities, including multiple anecdotes from people living with Porphyria, all foods in the Allium family should be avoided.  So, that means no onion, no garlic, no chives - none of that!

After doing some research, I found out that onion and garlic are fairly easy to replace as long as they are not the star-player of the recipe.  Essentially, they are just aromatics to give a little (or a lot) of extra oomph to the recipe.  So, to replace the oomph from one aromatic, you need some oomph from another aromatic.  The main suggestion for replacement has been celery.  Unfortunately, I'm not a big fan of celery.   I refuse to eat it if it's raw, but if it's hidden in a meal, well, OK.  Because of this, I've hesitated to even attempt an onion free and garlic free recipe using celery.    

Then I saw Ashley's pumpkin chili.  Not only did the recipe and accompanying photos look amazing (except for the kidney beans - they give me the heeby jeebies), but there wasn't a crazy amount of onion or garlic included.  So I decided it would be my first attempt at an onion free and garlic free recipe.

I plan on writing another post that includes tips and such on cooking onion free and garlic free (If y'all have any tips, please share.).  In the meantime, if you are highly sensitive or allergic double check everything!  I accidentally had traces of both onion and garlic in my recipe; I used a homemade broth that included both and the chili powder I used has garlic powder. 

I cooked the chili uncovered, so it was extra thick.   At that consistency, it would make amazing chili mac or as a sauce base for pizza with some shredded chicken on top.  I didn't get to try any of those options because I finished it, but next time!

Onion free and garlic free pumpkin chili
liberally adapted from (never home)maker with onion free and garlic free inspiration from

I'm writing this recipe as I cooked it, but please see below for my comments and suggestions.


  • 3-4 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked dry (or 1 can drained and rinsed) great northern beans
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked dry (or 1 can drained and rinsed) small red beans
  • 1 can corn kernels, drained
  • 1 14 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, keep the juice
  • 1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin*
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
  • Optional: 
    • Sliced avocado, shredded cheese, and/or tortilla chips for topping.  
    • For increased carbohydrates: cooked pasta such as macaroni noodles if the chili is thick, orzo if it is thinner.


In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the celery. Cook until onions are tender. Pour in the beans, corn kernels, pumpkin puree, tomatoes,  vegetable broth, and seasonings (including herbs).  Mix.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. When stirring, crush the whole tomatoes enough to mix them in a bit, but keep them chunky.  Then lower the heat to a simmer and either cover for a thinner chili or leave uncovered for a thicker chili. Cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Verdict & notes:

  • First and foremost, I would increase all the spices, save the cayenne pepper - Dude, that stuff packs some heat!  
  • Second, I would definitely increase (maybe double?) the fresh herbs; I'm still getting used to cooking with fresh herbs, so I've been starting off light.  Also, Ashley originally suggested to add the herbs toward the end, but I really needed them to flavor the mixture, so I added them in the beginning.  Thoughts? 
  • Third, I might increase the celery by a stalk or two; I originally started out with one and a half and had to add some more in at the end (the recipe reflects this).    
  • Finally, the pumpkin doesn't add much flavor, so don't be put off by it's addition to the chili; if you want some of the flavor to shine, add an additional half to a full can of pumpkin puree.  
All that said, I definitely liked this chili.  I ate it a few times without anything else, which is saying something for me.

*If you are being strict about removing all things onion and garlic, leave out the chili powder and substitute with up to 1 tablespoon of ground red pepper and increase the cumin to 1 teaspoon.  I'm not sure how it will taste, but if anyone tries it, please let me know. Also, make your own vegetable broth without the offending onion and garlic (how-to post coming eventually).

1 comment:

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