Velma’s Chili from Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader


Have you read the Mitford series books by Jan Karon?  Father Tim and Cynthia feel like old friends and so do all the other characters that populate the small town of Mitford.

On my last library trip, I spotted the Mitford Cookbook and Kitchen Reader.  It’s full of recipes mentioned in the books (Orange Marmalade Cake, anyone?) and also lots of excerpts.  Food and stories is a hard combination to beat.

One recipe that caught my attention was Velma’s Chili.  I did make a few changes to it.  For one, I used half the meat it called for.  Two pounds of meat for 6-8 servings sounded like too much.  I doubled it and made a few other alterations as well.  Here’s what you’ll need to make my version:

  • 2 lbs. ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cans diced tomatoes
  • 2 15oz cans tomato sauce
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 4 Tbs. chili powder
  • 2 Tbs. sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup red wine

Brown the meat, onion, garlic and celery together and cook till the meat is done.  Drain the grease and rinse under hot water.  Put it back in the pot.

Add all the other ingredients, except the wine.  Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.  Add the wine and bring to a simmer.  Cook for an hour or several hours.

A batch this large is too much for a slow cooker.  I did freeze half and will heat the rest in the slow cooker for another time.  If you make a half batch, it would fit in the slow cooker nicely.

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  1. Love those books!

  2. Oh, this sounds so good. I love chili, hubby not so much. I have everything to make this and have been trying to “eat out of my current food supply. This would certainly whittle it down some. I think I will make this, sub red pepper for the green (not a green pepper fan), divide it up into individual servings, and freeze it. I can then thaw just enough for me to take to work, heat and eat.

    One of the slow cooker I have is a 5-qt. Do you think I can get the whole recipe in that?

    • Loy, I don’t think it will all fit in a 5 qt. I have a 6qt and it was pretty full with half the recipe yesterday. I’m not a huge chili fan either, but this was really good. Red pepper sound yummy!

  3. Love chili and I so love those books!

  4. This was AMAZING! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  5. Just one quick question: in the text you say you halved the amount of meat (bec. 2 lbs. was too much and I agree). But then the recipe still has the 2 lbs. of meat. However, I’m thinking you doubled the whole recipe except for the meat to make a really big pot of chili?

  6. kaswanson says:

    I’m cooking this recipe right now in an 8 qt pot and it fits perfectly. If you cook the recipe “as is” anything else will be too small. Just thought I’d add for your reference!

  7. I am making this & realized I don’t have any red wine. Can I substitute something else, like water or chicken stock, or just leave it out. Won’t get to the grocery today. Thanks for your help!

  8. Linda P says:

    With 4 tbsp chili powder, is this pretty spicy or does the sugar counteract it? I have family members that don’t do spicy well because of health problems.

    • It’s not really spicy. Start with 2 Tbs. though and then you can always add more after tasting it. That way it won’t be too much for your family.

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