Turkey Chili with Kale and White Beans

by formerchef on April 5, 2014

Turkey Chili with Kale and White Beans on formerchef.com

Is it chili?

Is it soup?

I really don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s so good that when I recently made an extra large batch for a dinner party hoping for leftovers for the next week’s lunches, I was left with nothing but a single bowl.

I came across this recipe at the beginning of the year while scouring Pinterest for “healthy” meals to make after the post holiday binge and used it as inspiration for this dish. While my version is different, and soupier (is that even a word?) than the original, it’s still incredibly healthy and delicious and it quickly became a family favorite.  I also chose to add kale to the recipe because frankly, most of us don’t get enough of the good stuff. Plus, I like the texture and the slightly bitter flavor it adds. This chili/soup is fresh, clean and flavorful and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

In other news, I recently discovered a cool new web site called bloglovin (thanks to David Lebovitz‘s newsletter). Bloglovin is helpful because it allows you to select all your favorite blogs (ahem) and then you receive a single daily email with a summary of new posts from the blogs you follow. Or, you can choose view it on an app on your phone or tablet. I liked the idea so much I signed up and selected a bunch of my favorite blogs to follow. I’ve never been a fan of checking an RSS feed, so this works well for me.

You can even select FormerChef on bloglovin as one of the blogs to follow or see the blogs I’m personally following here. This is especially helpful now because I used to count on Facebook Pages to let me know when my favorite blogs had posted something new, but in case you aren’t aware, Facebook has changed their algorithm so that under 10 percent of people who “Like” a Page actually see the Page’s posts in their news feed. It’s strictly pay to play now on Facebook, so if you want to make sure you see new posts from FormerChef, I recommend you either subscribe for direct email delivery of new posts (see envelope icon top right sidebar), or sign up for a service like Bloglovin (it’s free- I don’t get anything for recommending it either, I just like it). It looks like you can follow people on Bloglovin too, so let me know if you are on there!

Turkey Chili with Kale and White Beans

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 12 cups

Serving Size: 1 Cup


  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 each yellow onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 poblano pepper, diced
  • 1 jalepeno, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 pounds ground turkey
  • 2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 6-8 cups turkey or chicken stock
  • 8 oz cleaned lacinato (Tuscan) kale, cleaned and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 limes
  • 1 bunch cilantro


  1. In a large soup pot, add the oil to the pot over a meduim heat and then add the diced onion. Allow the onion to cook for about 5 minutes until it begins to soften, then add the diced red bell pepper, diced poblano, minced jalepeno, and garlic. Saute for another 3-4 minutes.
  2. Add the ground turkey to the onion and peppers mix and cook until the turkey is no longer pink, breaking it apart and combining it with the vegetables.
  3. When the turkey is cooked, mix in the cumin and dried oregano and then add the stock. Mix in the rinsed cannellini beans.
  4. Allow the soup to cook for at least 30 minutes on a low simmer.
  5. About 10 minutes before serving, add the cleaned kale to the soup and let it wilt and cook briefly.
  6. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  7. Serve with a garnish of fresh cilantro sprigs and a squeeze of fresh lime.





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Post image for Mise En Place- A Place For Everything and Everything in Its Place

Mise en place~ A place for everything and everything in its place

Have you ever wondered how restaurants do it? How they can serve hundreds of people a night with a menu that has dozens of choices? In the end, it’s all about the mise en place.

Every day, cooks arrive hours before the restaurant opens to the public to prep for that day’s menu. They slice and dice, simmer and sear, and generally organize all the ingredients needed for every dish they are responsible for. In restaurant lingo, they “prep their mise en place”. Without it, they are lost.

Mise en place (pronounced meeze ehn plas) is a French term which loosely translates as “put in place”. This concept allows both professional and home cook alike, to prepare for one or a hundred in an efficient and seamless way, so that the dish or an entire meal comes together without delay.

Imagine this; you are making a chicken stir fry served with rice. Would you start cooking the rice after the vegetables? Of course not. The rice may take 40 minutes so you start that cooking first. Nor would you start to thaw frozen chicken after the wok was hot. Without realizing it, you probably already put some of the theory behind mise en place to work in your own kitchen by doing things in a certain order.

To really be efficient with preparation, you need to take it to the next level. Keeping with the stir fry example, next you would cut your vegetables; mince the garlic and ginger, slice the carrots and onions, dice the eggplant and mushrooms. If you wait to start cutting some of the vegetables after cooking, you may end up with burnt garlic, raw eggplant or over-cooked carrots. Having the mise en place ready allows you to cook that stir fry as intended, fast and hot, so that all the vegetables are cooked to the desired doneness. Finally, make sure you have any protein you might use, sliced and ready. You may even want to go as far as measuring out the various sauces and seasonings in advance. Then, once you heat that wok, all you have to do is add the ingredients; one, two, three…as they are ready to go into the pan.

The concept of mise en place is not only for fast paced dishes. It can help with complicated or slow cooked meals as well. Making your stock in advance means you can make soups and stews later with a real homemade flavor. Having your mise en place can help not only with the family dinner, but in planning large parties and preparing meals for a busy week ahead. You can use weekend time to prep ingredients for later. Slow cook meat which can later be used in tacos or stews. Cook rice and whole grains for use in hot side dishes and cold salads. Wash and chop vegetables for snacks, stir fries and pastas.

If you want to take advance preparation to the next level, you could prepare the base for several slow cooked meals in advance by cutting all the vegetables and meats for several meals. Portion the ingredients along with seasonings and possibly even the cooking liquid into freezer bags or containers and then freeze them for later use. Just pop a bag out, thaw, and put into the crockpot.

There is no area in cooking more important to mise en place than in baking. Measure out the flour, butter, sugar, salt baking powder before you start so you can be confident in your measurements. How many times have you been measuring flour into a bowl of wet ingredients and asked yourself, “was that four cups or five?” By that time, it’s too late to dump it out and start over. Sometimes even recipe instructions can be part of your mise en place; ever notice how many recipes start with these words “preheat oven to”? This is a critical instruction and if this step is missed, you could end up with a cake in pan ready to bake and a cold oven.

For large parties, having your mise en place ready is critical to the pacing of a successful meal.

Let’s say you are planning a dinner party for eight. You might have a salad, a soup, a roasted leg of lamb, and some side dishes. Don’t forget dessert!

  • You’d want to have your lettuce washed, vegetables cut for the salad, and vinaigrette made before the guests arrive. This way, the salad can be assembled and dressed in less than 2 minutes.
  • The soup would be made, and warming on the stove. Any garnish for the soup should be prepped and ready to go.
  • To figure out the timing for the lamb, work backwards from when you want it on the table; calculate the cooking time based on weight, add resting time, and subtract that from when you want to eat.
  • For your side dishes, think about if they can be made in advance (for example, scalloped potatoes) or if they need to be cooked right before serving (like sautéed fresh green beans). The potatoes can be made earlier in the day and put in the oven to bake before dinner (you’ll want to time this like the lamb). The green beans should be cleaned and cut, and for the mise en place, have garlic minced and fresh lemon and olive oil ready for the cooking process.
  • Many desserts can be made the day before and will be ready to go. If not, the same preparations apply; have any garnishes ready (the cream whipped, sauces made, etc.), plates and dessert forks staged and waiting.

With a little advance planning, you can be enjoying that glass of wine with your guests instead of frantically running around the kitchen praying it all comes together at the same time.

So… are you ready to get your mise en place on?


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One of my favorite things to do is to show people how simple it is to make things at home from scratch. Do not fear cooking (or in this case, curing). Love it and it will love you back. Gravlax is super easy to make at home, and yet at the same time, a delicious and impressive bit of culinary magic which will have your friends and family saying, “You made this?”

What is Gravlax? It’s is a salt and sugar cured salmon and is a wonderful addition to a brunch buffet, open faced sandwich or on canapes. There is often a bit of confusion surrounding gravlax, with many people assuming it is the same as smoked salmon or lox. In fact, gravlax is not smoked at all but instead cured by the process of covering it in salt and sugar which draws out the excess moisture (less moisture=slower spoilage).

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Things are getting desperate here, yet it seems like most people where I live are completely unaware. My lawn is the color of old cardboard, while my neighbor’s lawn looks like a golf course watered three days a week. Local news talks about the unending forecast of “beautiful weather”, and moans if there is even a 20% chance of rain (which never …

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If I’m ever in a restaurant with my husband and there is a crab cake on the menu I know exactly what he’s ordering. When I was a chef we had a running joke; if I saw a ticket come into the kitchen with a seared ahi and a crab cake on it for a single diner at the bar, I knew he was in the restaurant. He’s that predictable when it comes to a menu.

Crab cakes aren’t really that difficult to make at home, but I’ll be honest, they’re not …

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Thumbnail image for Kale Salad with Tangerines, Tiny Garlic Croutons, and Spicy Tahini Dressing

There’s a lot of baggage associated with kale. We’re told it’s healthy and we’re told we should love it. Kale is trendy. Where I live, in southern California, yoga mat toting twenty-somethings extol the virtues of kale over nonfat soy chai lattes or kale laced smoothies so often it’s become a cliche or a SNL skit. The local evening news includes kale in their healthy eating segments at least once a month. So it’s normal to want to push back and ask for a triple shot caramel Frappuccino instead, because kale is so last year, right?

Not really. Kale is still right now, and last year, and even last century. There are Tuscan recipes going back to the 1700’s which use kale. Kale is here to stay and you may just find it’s something you’ll crave whether or not you are trying to eat healthy. Being good …

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