These are the days- these gray, cold, windy days- that beg for chili. ‘But it’s sunny and mild today?’ you protest… check the 10-day. 49 degrees are invited to the party today but only 8 of them will still be here Tuesday night. So you might fire up the grill today, but you’re going to want chili within 48 hours, trust me.
My chili life is pretty complete. I have an Ultimate Beef Chili, when I feel making rich, labor-intensive, melt-in-your-mouth chili is how I want to spend my day; a Best Basic Chili for when I want (most of) that taste for a fraction of the work OR when my heart beats for chili cheese fries; and Cincinnati Chili because I’m in the I-heart-Skyline club.
Had I ever thought about chicken chili? Uhhhhhhh….. not if I can help it.
My thought process goes something like this: a chili should be described as many things including ‘beefy,’ so why on earth would someone want to make it with chicken? Ohhhhhhh, I know why. To make it ‘healthy.’ THAT takes me back to the 90s when I attended Thursday night parties not with cupcakes and Friends, but ‘let’s see how much fat we can take out of [fill in the blank] meal and then eat reduced-fat Nilla Wafers dipped in Cool Whip Light as a sinful treat’ parties. Chicken chili was subbed for beef chili more times than I can remember. And as if chicken chili weren’t bad enough, my mom even joined in and made chili with Quorn one time. QUORN. As in, a meat substitute made from fungus. Yes, I said it, fungus. And I’m totally not off the hook- more than once, I proffered black bean tacos with fat-free sour cream or trimmed all the fat off a chicken breast.
DON’T MAKE ME GO BACK!!!!
Wait. There’s a chicken chili made with cream? I’m listening.
That’s basically a synopsis of what happened in my head the minute before I actually read the recipe from Laurie at Simply Scratch a few weeks ago (ironically, it was my mom’s birthday, so the Quorn chili memories were particularly vivid). I saw the creamy texture, scrolled down to make sure it wasn’t just pureed beans, and found that, indeed, it was made creamy the right and proper way: with cream and sour cream. Then I saw the toppings of cilantro (herb love of my life), tortilla chips, and gobs of cheese. Well, it would be gobs once I got through with it. Sounded like it had the potential to be oh-so rich, satisfying, and crazy-bursting with flavor, so I took a gamble and made it. The whole time I kept wondering if I was willingly channeling 90s food culture with chicken in chili? Should I get a Rachel throwback haircut and order an XL latte with an extra shot of vanilla syrup but don’t you dare put a drop of anything but skim in that cup? Should I go get my scrunchie? Well…
It. was. amazing! Victory for chili lovers! Chicken chili rises from the ashes of the 90s food culture to a feature spot on the Food Hound, home of fat-free nothing! Someone bring me a whole milk latte to celebrate!
Seriously, this is so, so good. One bite and it soared to permanent rotation status. Not only is it really easy, but it’s sooooo flavorful on its own, and once you add the toppings? Yeah, baby. I’m not a huge topping person on my standard chili recipes (Ultimate and Basic) because I want nothing to mask the true chili flavor I’m eating, but Creamy White Chicken Chili, while good enough to stand on its own two feet, has a delicate enough flavor profile that the chips, cheese, and cilantro complement it perfectly. It’s a hearty, creamy soup with some corn flavor from the tortillas, some sharp tang from the sour cream and aged cheddar, and a burst of freshness from the cilantro.
Yes, the birds are chirping today, and we’ll be (heavily layered) outside soaking up some sun and fresh air. You might give your grill that come-hither look. But each one of those 8 lonely degrees speeding towards us in the forecast is going to give your thermostat a lot to handle, and teaming up with a big pot of Creamy White Chicken Chili is going to make it so much less painful.
- 1 cup of dry Great Northern Beans (or use 2 cans of Great Northern Beans)
- 1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 3-4 cups shredded cooked chicken)
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 T olive oil
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch of cayenne (more to taste- a pinch keeps it mild for the < 2 crowd)
- 3 c low-sodium chicken broth
- 8 oz (two 4 ounce cans) of chopped green chiles
- 1 cup sour cream
- ½ cup heavy cream
- Optional Chili Topper:
- Torn cilantro
- White Cheddar Cheese
- White Corn Tortilla Chips
- TO SOAK THE BEANS: Place the dried beans in a bowl and cover with at least 3 cups of cold water. Let the beans soak overnight or for at least 8 hours. Drain and rinse the beans in cool water. Add the beans to a pot and cover with three cups of water. Bring to a simmer, crack the lid so steam can escape and cook the beans for 1 hour or until the beans are tender.
- FOR THE CHILI: Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion into the pot, stir and cook until soft and translucent. Next add in the garlic, stir and cook for one minute.
- Add the cumin, oregano, cayenne, 1 tsp salt and ½ tsp black pepper; stir and cook for one minute.
- Add in the shredded chicken, beans (canned or cooked from dried), green chiles and chicken broth; stir, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to a low and add in the cup of sour cream and a ½ cup of heavy cream. Stir and keep warm on low heat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Keep in mind you'll be adding salty cheese and tortilla chips, though!)
- Serve with lots of chopped cilantro, crushed corn tortilla chips, and shredded white cheddar.
- Note: If you decide to use canned beans, you can omit the dry bean soaking and cooking instructions.