Iowan Surprise Recipe

Growing up, I was the luckiest girl when it came to food. My family is full of recipes. From my mum’s recipes to my grandma’s recipes, I was surrounded by flavor and diversity. One that particularly stands out to me is Iowan Surprise–or simply “Surprise” for short. This one comes from my Grandma in Iowa. You’re probably asking, What is “Surprise” anyway? Well. it’s basically a special version of chili, if you want to relate it to another food. It’s a wonderful comfort food while being a great family meal. Plus, there is so much variation allowed in this recipe. There’s a meat version, a vegetarian version, a spicy version, a non-spicy version, and so on! I obviously had the vegetarian style, while the rest of my family had the meat version. All you have to do is leave out the beef. Let’s get to the recipe. 

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Iowan Surprise

Serves 8
A wonderful version of chili atop crushed tortilla chips

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Prep Time
2 min

Cook Time
15 min

Prep Time
2 min

Cook Time
15 min

The Goop
  1. 1lb ground beef (for meat version…obviously)
  2. 1 15oz can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  3. 1 15oz can enchilada sauce
  4. 1 large can of refried beans
  5. 1 4oz can chopped green chilies
The Toppings
  1. 1 bag tortilla chips
  2. 1 cup grated cheese
  3. 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  4. Guacamole or avocado
  5. 1 cup chopped lettuce
  6. Salsa
  7. Peppers (for spice)
  1. Brown the beef and drain the fat
  2. Add all the canned ingredients except the chopped green chilies
  3. Heat the ingredients through and then add the chopped green chilies right before you’re ready to serve
  4. To serve, crush your tortilla chips up, then put the goop on top, and then add your toppings!
  1. If you like it to be spicier, add the green chilies earlier
Adapted from Grandma
Adapted from Grandma
hungry and fit

This recipe always brings a smile to my face and I always try to fit another serving in my belly even when there isn’t room. It keeps really well for leftovers and it takes no effort and next to no time to make. This is the perfect Fall recipe for busy families, and people like me! It’s a treasured family recipe that will continue to put smiles on eater’s faces. Make this recipe to stay hungry and fit!

One Response to "Iowan Surprise Recipe"

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  1. xxkultuur

    September 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Looks yummy in preparation for colder weather! Dunno if you avoid soy, but I put soy chorizo in my veggie chili and the consistency is awesome. (I brown it a little first before adding it to the mix).