White Chicken Chili

White Chicken Chili (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
White Chicken Chili (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

White Chicken Chili? How’d you come up with that? A fair question from a fellow cook who loves chili. While on a long solo business trip to Colorado in the 1990s, I was looking for a quick dinner and came across a cute local diner. A specialty of the diner was a chicken chile verde soup. It was full of chunks of chicken, big pieces of smokey fire-roasted green chiles and smothered in a creamy chicken broth. It was also tomato-based.

One snowy evening back at home, I wanted to try to make some of that soup. As I browsed through the ingredients in my usually well-stocked pantry, I found that I was out of canned tomatoes and tomato sauce. I didn’t even have any fresh tomatoes. With the snow falling heavily outside that chilly evening, and travel becoming more and more treacherous, I decided to stay home and improvise…and that’s how I came up with my White Chicken Chili.

Simmering White Chicken Chili (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

Thinking about the real “Texas” chilis with their chunks of meat, I wondered what would happen if I used chicken chunks — like that wonderful chicken chile verde soup — instead of the usual ground meat. And if I wanted “white” chili, then I wasn’t going to be able to add anything red such as tomato sauce or chopped tomatoes. Instead, I used green chili flavorings. My experiment turned out to be a very hearty unexpectedly “white” chili. Well, maybe it’s more “beige” than white but you get the idea.

White Cannellini Beans and Chopped Green Chiles (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
Desert Pepper Green Chile Salsa (Photo Credit: Desert Pepper Trading Co.)


From the kitchen of A Food Lover’s Delight….

White Chicken Chili


2 T canola oil
1 T butter and 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed, and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c all-purpose flour
2 cans chicken broth or stock
2 cans (15 oz each) white cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (4 oz) chopped fire-roasted green chiles
1/2 jar green chili salsa, or to taste (Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde is a good one, as is Desert Pepper shown above)
1/2 t cumin
1 T chili powder


1. Add oil to a chef’s pan.
2. Melt 1 T butter in the oil over medium heat.
3. Saute the chicken cubes in the oil/butter mixture until brown on all sides being careful not to burn the butter.
4. Add the onion to the chicken and saute until onion is transluscent.
5. Add garlic to the chicken/onion mixture and saute 2 minutes.
6. Remove chicken/onion/garlic mixture to a bowl
7. Melt 1/2 stick of unsalted butter to the pan, scraping up the brown bits.
8. Add flour to the butter and cook for 3 minutes to cook out the flour taste.
9. Add the chicken broth, scraping up the rest of the brown bits in the pan and cook for 3 more minutes.
10. Return the chicken/onion/garlic mixture to the pan along with the cannellini beans, chopped green chiles, green chile salsa, cumin, and chili powder.
11. Stir to mix the ingredients.
12. Cover and simmer for up to an hour or until thickened, stirring occasionally.

Serves 4. Top it with shredded Monterey Jack cheese and sliced scallions (use the green parts, too). Add a dollop of sour cream if you wish. Garnish with chopped cilantro if you are a cilantro fan, or chopped fresh jalapenos for a real kick. For a really creamy chili, add some heavy cream about 5 minutes before serving. Of course, does the addition of heavy cream defeat the “chili” concept?

Most folks are pretty particular about their chili. I hope you will try my recipe and let me know what you think!

White Chicken Chili with Shredded Monterey Jack (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)
White Chicken Chili with Shredded Monterey Jack (Photo Credit: Adroit Ideals)

www.afoodloversdelight.com (Copyright Adroit Ideals 2012)

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