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We haven’t exactly had the coldest winter here in North Carolina, but there have been a few days where bundling up is a must (or at least a scarf and a puffy, down vest).  Somehow though it seems that chili is a wintertime favorite even if snow and frigid temperatures are in short supply.

My meat and potatoes-loving husband would tell you that chili with lots of beef in a rich tomato-beer broth is right anytime of year, and while that’s probably true for the men-folk, I recently I had a craving for a lighter chili made with chicken.  The original recipe also noted cooked turkey as an option and of course I thought, why aren’t I using Thanksgiving’s leftover turkey to make chili?  Well, I will be next November.

As with most chili recipes this one can be adapted to suit your tastes and what you have in your presumably well-stocked pantry.  It is the perfect weeknight chili since it calls for both canned beans and chiles.

So call it white chili or white lightening chili, but there’s not a tomato in sight, which made it much more appealing to the junior members of our household.  But before we high-five in parent solidarity, I must confess that they ate only the chicken part of the chili with LOTS of shredded cheese.

So here we go.

Go ahead and get your spices out of your pantry.  Are they near the stove top?  I’ll give you a minute to go and get them.  You’ll need 3 tsp of chili powder, 1 1/2 tsp of dried oregano, 1/8 of a tsp (or more) of cayenne pepper and 1 1/2 tsp of ground cumin.   I was snapping away taking photos and realized later that I had left the cumin out of this shot, but don’t leave it out of your chili.

Mince 4 cloves of garlic and set those aside.

Get 3 15 ounce cans of white kidney beans ready by draining and rinsing them under cool water.  Set them aside.

Chop 2 onions.  And then in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil.  When the oil is hot add the onions and minced garlic.  Cook, stirring often until they are softened and turning translucent.

Add 1 4.5 ounce can of diced green chiles and the dried spices to the cooked vegetables.  Add the beans to the vegetable-spice mixture, stir to combine and cook for 1 minute.

Now you’re ready to add both 14.5 ounce cans of chicken broth to your Dutch oven.  Isn’t this easy?

Now that the chicken broth has been added, stir everything to combine and raise the heat and bring the pot to a simmer.  Place a cover onto your pot or Dutch oven and cook for 10 minutes. Lastly, add in 5 cups of cooked chicken and cook for an additional 10 minutes or until heated through.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and black pepper, if needed.

I served my spicy white chili with a dollop of sour cream, some shredded white cheddar cheese and a sprinkle of paprika for color.

I think the toppings for chili are what sometimes makes a bowl of chili, don’t you?  We kept it simple on this night but when we entertain and chili is on the menu, I’ll put out at least 10 different toppings for our guests to choose from.

Spicy White Chili

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, October 2011


2 cups chopped onions

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 4.5 ounce can diced green chiles

3 tsp chili powder

1 1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed

1 1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

3 15-ounce cans white kidney beans, drained and rinsed well

2 14.5-ounce cans chicken broth

5 cups cooked chicken, cubed

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Freshly grated white cheddar cheese and sour cream, to garnish (optional)


In a Dutch oven cook onions and garlic in hot oil over medium-high heat for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until tender.  Stir in chiles, chili powder, oregano, cumin and cayenne; cook 1 minute.  Add the drained and rinsed beans and both cans of broth to the Dutch oven.  Bring to simmering.  Cook, covered, 10 minutes.

Stir in chicken; cook about 10 more minutes, or until heated through.  Garnish each serving with sour cream and shredded cheese, if desired.

Serves: 8 to 10

Y’all have a good weekend!