White Bean Chicken Chili

White Bean Chicken Chili

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This recipe first came from my friend Wendy.  She made it for book club one evening and I was hooked.  This version is a great alternative to traditional chili. While it does take a little planning ahead, it works well in the Instant Pot, in a crockpot, or on the stovetop.  

It also reheats well and the kids like to take it in a thermos for school lunch.  I just stick the cheese in a separate container so they can add it at lunchtime.  Packed full of chicken and beans, there is a lot of opportunities to control how spicy if at all you want it.  

We garnish with jack or pepper jack cheese.  This would be great with some avocado or green onions too. 

I love the flexibility of this recipe.  You can use dried beans or canned, and have options on the cooking method.  This recipe would also work well with leftover turkey. 

White Bean Chicken Chili

A great alternative to traditional chili, this white bean chicken version packs in a lot of protein, fiber, and flavor. The entire recipe only has 1/2 cup of heavy cream which works out to be about 1 tablespoon per bowl. Versatile in the cooking method, you have many options on how to make this. It also works well with leftover cooked turkey. It is also a great make-head for feeding a crowd. Thank you, Wendy, for introducing this recipe to me.
Course Dinner, Main Dish, Chicken, Soup/Stew

Ingredients

  • 1 large sweet onion diced
  • 4-6 cloves fresh garlic minced
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes - optional
  • 4 15 oz cans of northern white beans *see note for dry beans cannellini or white kidney beans also work
  • 4-6 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cut into chunks a whole rotisserie chicken works well
  • 1 8 oz can green chilies your choice of heat (mild, medium, or hot)
  • 1 jalapeños seeds removed and minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock or broth
  • ½ cup heavy cream **see note on freezing
  • 1-2 cups shredded pepper jack cheese I use plain jack cheese for the kids

Instructions

Instant Pot Instructions

  • If you are using canned beans start at step two. For dried beans, wash and sort beans, place the beans into the instant pot with 6 cups of water. Cook on beans/chili (or manual) for 20 minutes. Quick-release the pressure when the countdown is done. Drain the beans and set them aside.
  • Set the IP to Sauté and wait until the display reads HOT. Add the oil and allow to heat for 30-45 seconds. Now add the onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, jalapeño, and chili flakes if using. Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in the canned chilies, chicken, stock, and beans. Give it a quick mix.
  • Hit cancel to exit Sauté mode. Close up the IP and cook on beans/chili (or manual) for 20 minutes. Quick-release the pressure when the timer is done.
  • Once the pressure is released, open the lid and give everything a good stir. Mix in the heavy cream. You can mix in the desired amount of shredded cheese to the whole batch or allow people to dress their own bowl. I let each person add cheese to their bowl since some members of my house prefer regular and some prefer spicy cheese.

Crockpot Instructions

  • If you are using canned beans start at step three. For dried beans, wash and sort beans, place the beans into a large bowl or pot, and cover with 1-2 inches of water. Let sit overnight. Drain and proceed with step two. Alternatively, use the quick soak method - after washing and sorting the beans, bring to a boil for 1 minute, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with step two.
  • Place the soaked beans (either overnight soaked or quick soaked) into the crockpot, and cover with 1-2 inches of freshwater. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours. Once the beans are tender and cooked through. Drain and set aside.
  • Add the oil to a heated pan over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, jalapeño, and chili flakes if using to the pan. Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes).
  • In the crockpot, mix together the beans, chicken, canned chilies, broth, and onion mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for 1½ hours. Mix in the heavy cream and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  • You can mix in the desired amount of shredded cheese to the whole batch or allow people to dress their own bowl. I let each person add cheese to their bowl since some members of my house prefer regular and some prefer spicy cheese.

Stove Top Instructions

  • If you are using canned beans start at step three. For dried beans, wash and sort beans, place the beans into a large bowl or pot, and cover with 1-2 inches of water. Let sit overnight. Drain and proceed with step two. Alternatively, use the quick soak method - after washing and sorting the beans, bring to a boil for 1 minute, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let soak for 1 hour. Drain and proceed with step two.
  • Place the beans in a large pot on the stovetop, cover with 1-2 inches of cold water, bring to a boil and skim off any foam that has formed on the surface. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 1-1½ hours until the beans are tender and cooked through. Drain and set aside.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, jalapeño, and chili flakes if using to the pan. Sauté until onions are translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in the canned chilies and saute for 30 seconds.
  • Add the beans, chicken, canned chilies, broth, and onion mixture. Cover and cook on low heat for 1½ hours. Mix in the heavy cream and cook for an additional 30 minutes.
  • You can mix in the desired amount of shredded cheese to the whole batch or allow people to dress their own bowl. I let each person add cheese to their bowl since some members of my house prefer regular and some prefer spicy cheese.

Notes

Be very careful if you decide to add extra salt to the chili before the cheese is added.  The cheese will add to the salty taste and the chili may end up too salty.  I do not add any additional salt to this dish.  I do use regular chicken broth that contains salt.  When I taste the mixture before adding the cheese it tastes slightly under-salted. 
The canned beans add up to be about 6 cups of cooked beans. 
* If you want to use dry beans instead of canned beans, you will need a 1 lb bag of beans (this is about 2 cups dried beans). You will also need to cook the beans a bit before you cook up the rest of the chili. This can be done ahead of time, or the same day. 
** If you want to freeze some of this for later, I recommend removing a portion before you add the cream to freeze.  Add the cream once it has been reheated.  The entire recipe has 8 tablespoons of heavy cream.  It works out to be about 1 tablespoon per bowl. 


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