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Low Sodium Black Bean Butternut Squash Chili

Updated: Jan 12, 2022

This hearty chili comes together quickly and has just 25 mg sodium per cup. I love it with a little cheese and sour cream but you can easily keep it vegan and top yours with avocado, cilantro, onions, chips, or just about anything else you like!

Servings: Makes about 8 cups Sodium: 25 mg per cup Time: 60-90 minutes


10 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 large onion, diced

1 medium apple, peeled and diced small

1 large stalk of celery (about 2 oz)

1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled

2 jalapeno peppers, chopped small (optional)

1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder

1 tablespoon salt-free chili powder

1 tablespoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon ground coriander

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon salt-free mustard (or 1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 teaspoon sugar

2 14.5-ounce cans no salt added diced tomatoes

12-15 ounces butternut squash, cut into about 3/4 inch cubes (that’s about 1 medium squash, cutting them larger is fine, too, they'll just take a bit longer to cook)

1 15-ounce can no salt added black beans, drained and rinsed

Ideas for low sodium garnishing/topping: sour cream, low sodium cheese, salt free tortilla chips, lime juice, chopped cilantro, diced avocados, pickled red onions, vinegar (balsamic, white wine, or red wine vinegar), hot sauce.

A note on ingredients:

I used a pink lady apple, but I think any of the sweet/tart varieties will work (fuji, honey crisp, gala, etc.) Maybe just not red delicious although I've never tried so maybe it would be fine.

I use jalapeños and chipotle chili powder to give this a little heat. For more heat, add more jalapeños or use a spicier pepper, or add a little cayenne pepper. For something milder, use poblanos or skip the spicy peppers altogether and use a bell pepper.

Ginger is a little controversial in our family. My husband hates biting into a piece of ginger but he likes the flavor. I really love ginger and I think it adds a nice, subtle flavor here. But I don't want it to be too strong so I keep the ginger whole and let it simmer with the chili for 20 minutes but then I'll take it out. Or just leave it out, your call.

I use pre-cut butternut squash from Trader Joe's but I also cut the squash into about 3/4 inch cubes based on preference. If you leave the squash larger you'll just need to cook them a little longer. If you want to use a whole butternut squash but aren't sure how to cut it up, here's a little tutorial from my brown butter buttternut squash recipe.

If you don't like butternut squash, some other vegetables that work well are cauliflower, potatoes, or sweet potatoes (these are relatively high sodium for a vegetable).

If you don't care to keep it vegetarian or vegan, this would be great with ground beef. Substitute 1 pound of ground beef (nothing too lean) for the butternut squash and brown it with the spices before you add any of the liquid ingredients.

These are some of the ingredients I used. Not pictured is the Westbrae salt-free mustard and Bionaturae salt-free tomato paste I used.

1) The quick and easy way to make this chili is to combine all your ingredients in a large pot (mine is 6 quarts, but anything 4 quarts or larger will work), bring to a boil, and then simmer on low for about 30-40 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the butternut squash is soft.

2) Alternatively, cook this in four different stages. First start by sautéing the garlic, onion, apple, celery, ginger, jalapeño peppers, chili powder, chipotle chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, coriander, and olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until soft and fragrant. That's everything in the ingredient list from garlic down to olive oil.

3) Then add the mustard, sugar, tomatoes, and tomato paste, bring to a soft boil, and then simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes have broken down and the flavors have come together.

4) Next add the butternut squash and simmer until soft, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5) When the butternut squash is soft, add the black beans and simmer another 5-10 minutes until the beans are hot. I add the beans last because I use canned beans and if I simmer them too long they tend to break apart.

Serve hot and top with a combination of: sour cream, low sodium cheese, salt free tortilla chips, lime juice, chopped cilantro, diced avocados, pickled red onions, low sodium hot sauce, or vinegar (balsamic, white wine, or red wine vinegar).

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