chili with a secret weapon

i learned this secret weapon trick with chili a long time ago in culinary school.

i don't care what kind of chili you make, if you add a can of condensed tomato soup it will make your chili better.
  i swear.

anderson's makes a vegan version that i use.

so here is how i make mine.

i saute some onion and bell peppers in a tiny bit of water or oil until they are soft and then add
2 15 oz cans of any combination of beans you want.
i usually use black and navy beans.
then i add a cup or 2 of whatever vegetables i want or need to use up.
i usually add some frozen corn for color
a 15 oz can of cut tomatoes
about 2 big T of chili powder
if you want it hot add some red pepper flakes or cayenne
salt and pepper and
a can of tomato soup

heat it through for about a 1/2 hour and serve.
the next day it is even better.
i use it in tacos, potato scrambles, you name it.

i usually place a flour tortilla in a bowl and scoop the chili in it and garnish with avocado 
but i obv did neither yesterday.

2 more days.


  1. Oh, I hope you still post recipes and days of what you ate after this is over! And...this is incredible, actually, because I am always learning new things from you for the first time, but this secret weapon, OMG, my MOM used to do this when I was a kid!!! Every now and then I add my can but have never said anything to anyone because I didn't think it was "cool" to do in the kitchen! HA! Was I ever wrong! If janet at The Gardener's Cottage does it and learned it from culinary school, then I am good to shout it to the world!
    Thank you!
    -Suzanne in Illinois

  2. Hi Janet! Awesome tip ~ I was planning to make chili tonight and I think I'll give it a try. I'm currently vegan for a 2 week trial. It's hard, of course, but it's not as hard as I thought it would be. I'm on my 6th day and I already can feel a difference. Mostly in sleep ~ I've slept so well the last couple of nights. It's amazing. Anyway, I wanted to ask if you've ever tried the Coconut Milk "yogurt" at Trader Joe's. A friend recommended it and it's so delicious.

    1. i have not tried it but i will now. thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Interesting! I would have never thought to use condensed tomato soup. I was just telling my husband last night that I need to make a big batch of chili this week. I'll have to try this secret weapon!

  4. I too hope you continue to post your meals/recipes. Daily might be a bit much to ask, but a few times a month would be wonderful!


  5. I love making and serving chili but I have never heard of your culinary school trick. I will add it to my recipe next time I make it.
    I am loving your cooking posts!

  6. This is awesome, I want to eat it right now. It's a couple of degrees below freezing here and it would warm me up! x

  7. Janet, could you do a post on how you determine portion sizes? You seem to have a healthy, sensible approach to this. I want to learn! I love your blog!

  8. There are so many yummy vegan dishes one can make! Veggie chili is one of my favorites.

  9. I'm doing it! Janet thanks for sharing your secret weapons with us.

  10. This looks good _ I think you should put together a cookbook!

  11. I would have never thought to throw a can of tomato soup in my chili. Why does it make it taste better do you think? Does it give in a more velvelty consistency?
    Thanks for the tip!

    1. the best way i can describe what the soup does is mellow it out and give it a creaminess or as you say, velvety texture.

  12. Your chilli looks really colourful - interested in trying the tom soup secret weapon!

  13. Dear Janet, I re-read your post on skin care and didn't see my issue addressed. I have lots of broken capillaries on my cheeks. What do you think of lasers to remove them? Does the treated area stay red? Does it burn off the facial hair, too?
    I love your blog. Keep the recipes coming. Thanks for any info you can give me. k

    1. i would suggest a consult with a dermatologiist. lasers can take care of broken capillaries. depending on how many you have would determine how many treatments you'd need. you will be a little red but it won't last and it does not burn your facial hair.
      but def book an appt with a good dermatologist.

    2. Thanks Janet. I will do.

  14. Great idea - I will try that the next time I make chili! I'm loving your food everyday posts, I wish they were continuing :)

  15. Hi Janet,

    I actually made vegan chili this week, sans the soup. I might have to try that!

    I also made your "egg-less" egg salad and my husband really liked it! (and he loves egg salad) I made us sandwiches with it today for lunch and it is very tasty! I used to eat a similar tofu salad in my 20's. BTW, have you seen the new line of bread in the stores called "Dave's Killer Bread"?
    It's organic and vegan and soooo good. I will only buy it on sale but I also heard Costo carries it now.


    P.S. I happen to like your daily posts!!

  16. Janet - your blog is A GOLD MINE OF INFO! Today I found Daiya vegan cheese at Ralph's and it's $$$ but pretty good. I'm also very interested in the coconut milk yogurt from TJ that a reader mentioned above and will look for it next trip. I do not do well with soy products. Everything you have posted has been very tasty. Please do continue sharing your recipes - perhaps one or two a week? Eliminating dairy is a huge challenge for some of us. I'm trying it for a couple weeks to see how I feel without it. I also agree that your food portions are commendable. I once met a woman who lost 100 pounds by eating exactly half the amount of food she would normally dish out for herself. It took discipline but she said it was the "easiest diet" she ever did and it worked and she's kept the weight off. - Jan in Pasadena

  17. I have not ever tried that but I will! Thanks!

    Years ago a neighbor gave me a wonderful recipe for french dressing for salad using tomato soup. here it is:

    1 (10 3/4 ounce) can tomato soup
    10 3/4 ounces oil (use the soup can to measure)
    10 3/4 ounces Braggs organic apple cider vinegar (use the soup can to measure)
    2 cups sugar (or less, to taste)
    2 onions, chopped
    2 teaspoons paprika
    1 teaspoon salt
    1/2 teaspoon pepper
    3 garlic cloves, mashed

    Mix in blender until smooth.
    Refrigerate in closed container.
    Keeps well.

    I love this however....I use half the onion and half the sugar. and not all the oil--and
    i also add some dry mustard - it does keep well in fridg.

  18. i agree_please dont stop posting what you ate x

  19. These posts have been so timely. I'm mostly vegan tho' my adult children and grands are not. They are all coming for Christmas and I plan to use many of your recipes and hope I can sway them from consuming so many dairy products. I've suffered from respiratory problems since childhood and now in my mid-60s am healthier than ever, mostly due to eliminating dairy products. Thanks for sharing so many recipes, please include them now and then in your posts. Can't wait to try this chili recipe! Judy

  20. My secret weapon in chili was a couple squares of dark chocolate :) That said, due to severe health issues I have had to eliminate all grains, legumes, nightshade vegetables (tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, eggplant), raw fruits and vegetables, soy, corn, nuts, and sugar (among a few other things), and eating has become a nightmare. As wonderful as your meals look, I could not eat any of them. :( Have wondered if my years as a vegetarian/vegan are over ... Living vicariously through those like you xox

  21. Hi Janet - I would not have guessed that canned tomato soup was your secret weapon for chili! I'd though you were going to say butternut squash or another vegetable. I've been using canned tomato soup in my chili recipe for a few years now. It really makes a difference and is so easy.

  22. Tomato soup - very interesting. I make Rachel Ray's vegetarian chili - you add a can of refried beans near the end of the recipe - I used refried black beans (vegan, no-fat with green chilis)....it is amazing how that can of refried beans adds a depth of flavor.....love vegan chili...and I will try your wonderful recipe as well.

    Catt from Kentucky

    1. oh i'll def try the refried beans, sounds so good.

  23. I'm going to have to add a new section to my recipe box...titled Janet! I never really realized how much of a boring vegan I really am! I have a hard time with tomato soup...it smells like spaghettios to me but I am excited to try to it. I trust your opinion and will buy a can for football/chili Saturday. :)

  24. Janet, Can you recommend a restaurant that serves vegan food in Redlands? Our daughter goes to school at the U of R and it would be nice to have another option besides Gourmet Pizza (although delicious) when we come to visit.
    Love your blog. Emily

  25. I've never heard of that trick before...but I'll try it. Your bowl of chili looks pretty good.

  26. Oh wow, I will be adding this the next time I make veggie chili--thanks Janet.
    And can I just say, the white bistro chili enchiladas were AH-MAZING!
    I may use a smaller jalapeño next time, cause mine had a serious kick to it!
    But boy o' boy---yummo!


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