My version of Chili Mac consists of humble ingredients, most of which you may even have in your pantry at the moment. The grocery list is minimal, yet it produces a large quantity, making this an excellent choice for a crowd. In the South, we host chili cook-offs in the spring and summer, why not serve this soupy cousin of a dish during the summer months as well. During the winter months, ladle Chili Mac into deep mugs and enjoy a meal that is both comforting and sticks to your ribs.
You should make this meal your own by playing with the spices and adding heat if your family likes a hot chili. I add more chicken stock than necessary because the dried pasta absorbs so much liquid and I prefer soup over "stoup." When I serve the kids, I drain most of the juice and give them chunky hot pasta and ground beef, all topped with melted cheddar cheese.
1 tablespoon olive oil (I like California Olive Ranch evoo)
1 yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8-12 ounces ground beef (I like 80/20, you can also use turkey)
6 cups chicken broth (I like to use Better than Bouillon mixed with water or homemade)
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 (14.5-ounce) can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5-ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10 ounces pasta (elbow or another shape)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and sautee until translucent, then add the garlic and stir until fragrant. Add the ground beef, and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.
Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, chili powder, and cumin. Because I use Better than Bouillon, I hold back on the additional salt until the soup is well mixed and then I taste for seasoning.
Bring to a simmer and stir in pasta noodles. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through about 10-13 minutes.
Finish with cheese
Remove from heat. Top with cheese and cover until melted, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.