White Chicken Chili

What could be better on a cold night than a bowl of homemade White Chicken Chili, especially one made extra-easy (if you like) with a rotisserie chicken?

White Chicken Chili

The clocks are sorry, the clocks are very sad. One stops, one goes on striking the wrong hours.
– Donald Justice, poet,
after losing his mother


In much of the country, we turn back the hands of the clock in late autumn, creating the illusion of a gifted hour.

My first job, I rode the bus to work. Frugality was the reason but I soon treasured the rhythm: workward, reading the morning paper; homeward, reading a book.

But after the fall time change, as the bus lumbered through neighborhoods whose names not residents I knew, I ignored my book and instead peered through thick glass. On the Mondays and some times the Tuesdays and even the Wednesdays, folks had yet to adjust their evening routines: the drapes, the blinds, the curtains, they all remained open.

So the bright lights of kitchens and front rooms spilled into the dark, illuminating the families cocooned inside the warmth of their homes in living panoramas, mothers at the stove, kids at the table with schoolwork, the flicker of television in another room.

It was indeed a gifted hour, one I repeat, now on foot with the dog, each year.

ALANNA's TIPS For an easy shortcut, cut up the breasts of a rotisserie chicken or use leftover cooked turkey. Just add it in the middle, when the cooked chicken is added. For more volume, use all the meat from a rotisserie chicken, just be sure to add another 1-1/2 cups chicken stock. White kidney beans, called cannellini beans, are firmer than navy beans or great northern beans so are a better choice for a hearty soup like this that cooks for awhile and will likely be reheated as leftovers. When I first started making WHITE CHICKEN CHILI, I used fat-free half & half instead of regular half & half. But then I checked the ingredient list and became uncomfortable. I also found that it had a greater chance of appearing curdled although the taste is fine. There are calorie consequences, however. Next time I'll try using something like 1-1/2 cups whole milk and 1/2 cup cream, just to see. Half & half is an North American dairy product, half cream and half whole milk.

KITCHEN CLASSIC:
WHITE CHICKEN CHILI

Hands-on time: 30 minutes up front
Time to table: 2 hours
Makes 9 cups
  • 1 pound chicken breasts, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups (14 ounces) chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 8 ounces canned chopped mild green chilies
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 28 ounces canned white beans, rinsed
  • 14 ounces canned corn, including liquid
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar (don't skip)
  • 2 cups half ‘n’ half or fat-free half 'n' half
  • 1/2 cup low-fat (not non-fat) sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon Tabasco, optional
  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish

In a large, heavy pot, cook chicken in splash of the chicken broth in a Dutch oven over medium heat until cooked. Heat remaining broth in microwave. Transfer chicken to a dish to hold.

In the same pot, melt the butter with the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the water, onion, red pepper, garlic and chilies; cook until onion is soft.

Sprinkle the flour over top and stir in, let mixture cook 1 minute.

Stir in hot stock, cooked chicken, beans, corn and vinegar. Cover and bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer for 90 minutes.

Stir in half ‘n’ half, sour cream and Tabasco; rewarm but do not allow to boil, otherwise the mixture will curdle.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle with cilantro. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE NUTRITION ESTIMATE Per Cup (made with fat-free half 'n' half/regular half 'n' half): 230/300 Calories; 4/10g Tot Fat; 2/6g Sat Fat; 37/57mg Cholesterol; 806/828mg Sodium; 29/31g Carb; 7g Fiber; 5g Sugar; 19/21g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 4/6 & WW Points Plus 5/7.

Kitchen Parade is written by second-generation food columnist Alanna Kellogg and features fresh, seasonal dishes for every-day healthful eating and occasional indulgences. Do you have a favorite recipe that other Kitchen Parade readers might like? Just send me a quick e-mail via recipes@kitchen-parade.com. How to print a Kitchen Parade recipe. Never miss a recipe! If you like this recipe, sign up for a free e-mail subscription. If you like Kitchen Parade, you're sure to like my food blog about vegetable recipes, too, A Veggie Venture. Follow Kitchen Parade on Facebook!

More Hearty Chili Recipes

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Thanks, Alanna, for a perfect Fall recipe! I started making chicken chili variations a few years ago, and now find meat-based chili just too overpowering.

11/03/2006
 
I love this story, Alanna -- I'm a fellow fan of being able to look into homes as I pass by on a cold, early-dark night.

Please note: this is different than being a peeper! :-)

Thanks for the recipe, too. This might be a good thing to make this weekend...it's definitely chili weather, and we already had ground beef-based chili last week and this week...time for a change-up.

11/03/2006
 
I too rode the bus to and from my first job in San Francisco. I always loved rolling down Fulton towards the ocean, the dying sunset in the distance, and the warmly lit vignettes of family life displayed for my fleeting view. I love your writing style.

11/06/2006
 
It looks delicious. I thought about making white chili recently! :)

11/06/06
 

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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. But I also love hearing your reactions, your curiosity, even your concerns! When you've made a recipe, I especially love to know how it turned out, what variations you made, what you'll do differently the next time. ~ Alanna