Seafood Most Definitely Belongs In Chili

Especially in the fall and winter, chili is the warm, chunky stew that soothes our souls. We tend to lump it into two categories: Chili with meat, like beef or turkey, or vegetarian chili that piles on the beans or sweet potatoes. But what if there was a third option? Pescatarians can rest easy knowing that while seafood may not be the most common chili mix-in, it definitely belongs in your hearty bowls.

Plunking seafood in tomato-based broths has been done plenty of times before, so this version of chili isn't really breaking the mold here. Cioppino features crushed tomatoes, shrimp, mussels, and squid, while classic French bouillabaisse includes tomatoes and a variety of fishy ingredients. But adding seafood to your chili takes this traditional cowboy dish and makes it just a little fancier.

Amidst all the pantry ingredients like canned tomatoes, beans, and corn, you can also enjoy succulent shrimp, buttery scallops, or fresh crab. Plus, the unexpected proteins give you a little wiggle room to get creative with your seasonings and add-ins. And by adding this twist to a classic dish, you can still get all your protein in, just with lighter ingredients than beef or pork.

How to make chili with seafood

If you want to emulate one of the tomato-based soups previously mentioned with your seafood chili, try swapping it in for the protein used in a classic recipe. It can lighten up a rich no-bean chili, for instance, and would be a delicious poultry replacement in a smoky chicken chili recipe that uses onion and bell pepper. But you don't have to stick to red bowls here — fishy ingredients will also pair well with white chili, which features white beans, or chili verde, which uses tomatillos.

When it comes to the type of seafood you use, stick to milder ones like shrimp, crab meat, and scallops if you're just dipping your toe in the fishy waters. But if you're not afraid of jumping off the deep end, feel free to throw in mussels, prawns, clams, oysters, crawfish tails, or squid. Since you're already going for a switch-up from a typical chili, you can also incorporate a little Cajun seasoning, Creole seasoning, chopped baby corn, hearts of palm, or any other ingredients that you know pair well with seafood stews. And just because you're including shrimp or scallops in your dish doesn't mean you have to leave out the meat altogether, as sliced andouille sausage or shredded chicken would still taste delicious in these types of bowls. Whichever way you hack it, you'll want to try this take on chili if you're a seafood lover.