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White Chicken Chili

September 20, 2017


I married someone who loves food as much as I do. When we visited our families this summer we worked through – and smashed – a rather ambitious Must Eat list (pad thai, corn muffins, Anna’s Taqueria super burrito, lobster roll, BBQ chicken calzone, Cape Cod potato chips, blueberry pie, etc. etc. etc.) that we’d posted in my parents’ kitchen. We choose vacation locations based on how well we think we’ll eat. But he’s also someone who goes through phases of controlling his food (high protein, no carbs, 6 meals a day) despite my intense eye rolling, exasperated sighs and general disdain.

But choose your battles one must so choose my battles I do and I genuinely try to cook to his diet, which we can summarize as Lots of Meat And Eggs And Not Much Else. (This isn’t directly relevant but it makes my efforts to cook to someone else’s whims appear all the more valiant so I feel compelled to point out that I’m currently nearly halfway done cooking yet another baby in my body. And I’m not cooking to my cravings. But rather, to my husband’s super important desire to eat protein. There. I said it. I’m done.)

In any case, despite my begrudgingly going along with his new diet (it all comes from a place of love!), scrounging the internets for interesting high-protein meals while eating straight up Pop Tarts from the wrapper, I have discovered some really amazing recipes. This is one of them.


He wanted lots of chicken. I was cold (see: London) and wanted queso (see: pregnant). What to do? I decided to make a souped up (lolz) variation on a White Chicken Chili found on Food52 and not mention that there’s a maybe a litttttle bit of cream and cheese in the soup. The original called for all sorts of things one cannot easily buy in your average London supermarket (half-and-half, pinto beans, poblano peppers) so I did some tinkering and man it was good. Even the baby ate it (which, come to think of it, isn’t saying much). The rich, creaminess comes mostly from a simple roux (with help from a few heavy-handed splashes of cream) and the zesty flavor from the simplest spices (cumin, chili powder, Tabasco).

I won’t even link to the original recipe because I messed with it beyond recognition, but feel free to peruse Food52 for other white chicken chili options.  Though you’ll be hard pressed to find one better than this.


All of the ingredients are flexible and can be adjusted to taste. You can even add some vegetables like summer squash to add some nutrition and flavor. The method is a good one – and can be replicated with all sorts of flavors to make hearty cold weather soups. This made enough for the two of us plus one very big helping of leftovers. (A note about the photos: I took them halfway through cooking, so the chicken – while cooked – wasn’t yet shredding by itself in the soup. You can cook it less with chunky chicken as pictured or keep cooking if you’ve got time for shredded chicken. It’s up to you!)

6 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, chopped

2 jalapeños (or any chili you want), deseeded and chopped (or more to taste) NB: I used a medium squeeze of crushed fresh chili

4 – 8 chicken breasts (or thighs or a mix); the amount of meat is up to you, I used 3 lbs; chopped into 1″ cubes

1/3 cup flour

2 – 4 cups chicken broth (or water with 2 chicken bullion cubes)

1/2 cup cream (I used single cream, you can use heavy cream or half-and-half)

1 can cannellini beans, rinsed

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon chili powder (I used mild)

A few drops of Tabasco

1/2 – 1 cup frozen corn kernels (optional)

1/2 cup Gruyere, grated plus more to serve

Chives or cilantro to serve (optional)

In a large pot, melt a chunk of butter and sautée the onions and chilis or over medium heat until translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. While this cooks, chop the chicken. Scoop out the onions and chili and reserve them in a small bowl. Now turn up the heat a bit and sautée the chicken chunks until starting to brown, then scoop them out and reserve in another bowl.

Melt the rest of the butter in the large pot then add the flour, whisking constantly for 2 minutes until the roux forms. Return the onions and chili to the pot, then slowly add in the broth and the cream, whisking constantly over medium heat for a few minutes unti it starts to bubble and thicken. Return the chicken to the pot and add the beans and the spices – cumin, chili, Tabasco – and some salt and pepper to taste.

Let the soup cook at a low bubble (stirring occasionally) for as long as you want, anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours, until chicken is starting to fall apart in the soup. Add more chicken broth (or water) if the soup gets too thick for your liking.

Just before serving, add the corn and 1/2 cup grated Gruyere and stir through. Serve with a little grated Gruyere and some freshly cut chives on top.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2017 3:20 am

    This sounds yummy! I will definitely try it! xox

  2. Lindsay C permalink
    October 5, 2017 5:23 am

    Yay! a new post! These men of ours, just eat a cookie and shut up. Who you trying to impress anyway (puffs belly out)

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