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This recipe was originally born out of the desire to experiment with salsa verde. I love the tang of tomatillos and green chile, and as an added bonus my daughter enjoys it much more than its tomato-based counterpart. As is often the happy way of culinary evolution, it became a vehicle for some of my other favorite ingredients along the way. For me, this dish wouldn’t be same without all the stir-ins: velvety chunks of seasoned avocado, sharp cheddar, sour cream, cilantro, and tortilla chips.

This is a great recipe for entertaining — just prep all the add-ins ahead of time and set it up buffet-style so guests can serve themselves. There is also something appealing about getting to control your own food destiny that makes this approach more kid-friendly. Even if you wouldn’t eat some of the extras individually, I encourage you to try them in this because they bring so much flavor to the party.

White Chicken Chili
makes 10 generous bowls

For chili:
3 cooked chicken breasts or meat from a small rotisserie chicken, cut into bite-size pieces
15 oz. can pinto beans, drained
15 oz. can cannelini beans, drained
7 oz. salsa verde (I use Herdez)
8 oz. canned diced green chiles
4 c. quality chicken stock (I use homemade or Kitchen Basics brand)
2/3 c. heavy cream
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. paprika
1/8-1/4 tsp. cayenne (your preference)
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. coarse salt + more to taste

For toppings:
2 avocados
juice of half a lime
1 tsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. coarse salt
sour cream
shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
tortilla chips (I am currently best friends with Sweet Potato Tortilla Chips)

In large stockpot, saute onion in oil over medium heat 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and cook one minute more, then add beans, salsa, and green chiles and stir well. Add chicken stock, cream, and all seasonings and bring to simmer. Simmer lightly for 10-15 minutes to allow flavors to come together. Add cooked chicken, stir, and simmer just til heated through. Taste once more for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired.

While chili is simmering, roughly chop avocados and place in small bowl with lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Mix well and set aside, then prepare other toppings as needed. Serve hot bowls of chili with mix-ins as desired.

Recipe Notes + Tips:
This chili finishes with a thin consistency more like chicken soup than a traditional red beef chili. The melted cheese and sour cream provide some additional texture, and that’s plenty for me. However, if you prefer a thicker chili, there’s an easy fix. At the start of the recipe, add an extra can of cannelini beans. Once you’ve added stock, cream, and seasonings, but before adding chicken, use an immersion blender to puree the beans and create a richer consistency. Continue recipe as above.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can carefully transfer the hot soup to a traditional blender, puree, and then return to pot. I love my immersion blender, definitely one of my must-have tools. Like most kitchen appliances, you can easily spend five times what you need to, so shop around. I’ve had my $15 Proctor Silex version for years, and it’s blended everything from butternut bisque to apple butter beautifully.