Panera Bread is known for its delicious baguettes and delectable soups. Each soup comes with a piece of bread for dipping, making the perfect lunch. One of the best-selling soups is their homemade healthy turkey chili.
To make Homemade Panera Turkey Chili at home, you only need a few ingredients that you may already have in the pantry. This chili uses ground dark meat turkey which adds tons of flavor since dark meat has a higher fat content. When it comes to cooking, fat always equals flavor.
The base of this chili begins with onions, carrots, and celery. These vegetables are often referred to as mirepoix or the base flavor of a slow-cooked meal. Without cooking vegetables down before adding the liquids, you are missing out on tons of flavor from browning the mirepoix.
For the saucy element of the chili, you can use either chicken or turkey stock. You can usually find turkey stock in the grocery store around Thanksgiving. Using either will add great flavor, but use turkey stock if you can find it. Crushed tomatoes are the other saucy element that helps to thicken and sweeten the chili. Taste your tomatoes and determine if they need a pinch of sugar to offset the acidity.
Chili powder, cumin, and oregano add the necessary spices to this chili. Use a high-quality chili powder that is fresh. As spices sit, they tend to lose their flavor. The fresher your dried spices are, the better they will taste in your chili.
Panera’s chili does contain beans, so this recipe includes kidney beans and black beans. Alternatively, you could use chickpeas, cannellini beans, navy beans, or edamame if you like. Some folks prefer their chili without beans, and that’s okay too! Omit the beans if you are not a fan.
The finishing touch to this chili is a few pats of butter. The butter melts into a luxurious texture which thickens the chili slightly and adds a gorgeous sheen. Since turkey chili can be pretty lean, the addition of butter sends the chili into another delicious dimension.
In a stockpot over medium heat, add the olive oil and allow it to heat up for 1-2 minutes. Add the ground turkey, breaking it up well with a wooden spoon. Leave the meat to brown deeply in between stirs, about 2-3 minutes. This will give the best texture and deep brown color to the meat.
After the meat is well browned, add the diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook the vegetables until they are tender and translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Then add the garlic and tomato paste. Cook until the tomato paste is deeper in color, about 4-6 minutes.
Add the chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Deglaze the pan with the chicken stock and bring the mixture back up to a simmer.
Add the beans and crushed tomatoes. Stir everything well and leave over a simmer for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Check on the chili periodically to stir and make sure it stays at a simmer throughout cooking.
In the last 5 minutes of cooking, melt the butter into the chili and season to taste with salt and pepper. When the veggies are tender, it’s time to serve.
Spoon into bowls. Top with optional sour cream, oyster crackers, chopped scallions, shredded cheddar cheese, or diced avocado.