Gram's Depression Cocoa Chili

Lisa G. Sweet Pantry Gal


My Mother made her chili with canned tomato soup. Thats how Her Mom made it. She had a lot of mouths to feed and herself growing up in the depression learned to cut corners.
Now canned tomato soup we can always get fairly cheap. But I found it to be a great base for chili still today. So I changed up the recipe a bit and added cocoa. Im asked for my recipe quit often, and everybody is so shocked I use tomato soup.
And to stretch, and change up meal, I serve over rice or egg noodles, the little ones love it that way.
And P.S. I love all beans except kidney beans. :/

★★★★★ 1 vote
20 Min
1 Hr
Stove Top


1 1/2 lb
ground beef
1 large
chopped onion
1 1/2 c
chopped tri-color peppers chopped
hot pepper of choice chopped and seeded depending on heat
3 can(s)
tomato soup
1 can(s)
15oz chopped tomatoes w/onions and green peppers in juice
3 Tbsp
chili powder
1 Tbsp
2 tsp
1 tsp
cocoa powder
1 tsp
1 tsp
fennel seed
1/2 tsp
red pepper flakes optional
3 c
navy beans (or beans of choice)
1 can(s)
chili beans in sauce (15oz)
1 c
beer (used gingerale)

How to Make Gram's Depression Cocoa Chili


  • 1Brown ground beef, peppers and onions in large saucepan, along with chili powder and cumin.
    Drain excess fat.
  • 2Stir in tomato soup and tomatoes.
    Add S&P cinnamon, cocoa, fennel, & pepper flakes or other heat at this point. Bring to steady simmer for 30min.

    This is pretty much a sweeter chili. Feel free to add what ever heat You like! Depending on who Im feeding is how much heat I add.

    Add beans, and beer (optional) Turn to low and simmer another 30min.
    Can serve over rice or egg noodles.

Printable Recipe Card

About Gram's Depression Cocoa Chili

Course/Dish: Chili
Main Ingredient: Beef
Regional Style: Mexican