After bubbling away in the crock pot all day, comforting White Bean Chicken Chili -- loaded with tender chicken, white beans, and tangy green chiles -- is topped with your favorite garnishes: fresh cilantro, crunchy tortilla chips, gooey cheese...the possibilities are endless!
This week, central Texas had our first taste of legitimate autumn temperatures this season: we dipped into the 50s overnight and actually stayed there all day! Granted, it was back up in the 70s by the following day, but the temporary change in weather was crisp and refreshing, albeit short lived.
What's funny is the reaction of my kids when it gets "cold" (relatively speaking) for the first time in the fall. For children who step outside when it's 80°, shiver, and say, "Wow, it's cold out here!", cool temperatures in the 50s come as quite a shock. Heck, who am I kidding here? 50° is cold to me! Anything below that is downright frigid.
So how did we celebrate the finally-cool/cold weather after a summer spent in the high 90s or topping 100°? Why, we made soup, of course! But not just any soup...a flavorful, hearty White Bean Chicken Chili, chock full of juicy chicken, tender white beans, and green chiles, and garnished with generous amounts of fresh cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, and creamy Monterrey Jack. It's a fiesta for your taste buds, I tell you.
Just as enticing as this warm, delicious meal is the fact that it takes mere minutes to throw together and then cooks in the crockpot all day. Who wouldn't love coming home from a cold, blustery day to the smell of White Bean Chicken Chili bubbling away in the slow cooker? At that point, the only thing left to do is shred the chicken, add some milk for creaminess and a bit of masa or cornmeal for a fabulously flavorful undertone, and get your garnishes ready to go.
Now a quick word about the suggested garnishes for this dish...don't leave them out! I think that they are crucially important to the final flavors and textures in this white chili. At the very least, you must include the fresh cilantro, the tortilla chips, and the cheese. These three garnishes take this meal from good to great, and I have sorely missed them the few times I've eaten a bowl of this chili without them, whether it was because I ran out of something or I was just in too much of a hurry to get the extra ingredients out and thought they wouldn't ultimately make that much of a difference. Well, I'm here to tell you that they do. Even if you don't typically care for cilantro, I implore you to try at least a little in your first few bites. You just might change your mind.
As for the other garnish ideas I've suggested, such as avocado chunks, salsa, pico de gallo, diced jalapeños, and/or sour cream? Well, they'll take this bowl of comforting goodness from great to over-the-top! Think of this white chili as a delicious blank canvas and add whatever Mexican/Tex-Mex/southwestern garnishes that make your mouth sing. Just be sure to start with an extra-large bowl...take my word for it.
So whether your definition of cold weather is 60° (*raising hand*) or -10°, this White Bean Chicken Chili is the definition of a meal that will warm your heart (and your toes). It's a family favorite around our house, and I hope it becomes one at your house, too!
More Comforting Bean Soups
- Slow Cooker Ham & Bean Soup
- Easy White Bean, Kale, & Sausage Soup
- Slow Cooker Chicken Black Bean Soup
- Slow Cooker White Bean Cajun Soup
Slow Cooker White Bean Chicken Chili
- 1 pound dried white beans, Navy or Great Northern
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs
- 3 tablespoons minced garlic, fresh or (refrigerated) jarred
- 2 (4-ounce) cans mild diced green chiles
- 1 jalapeño, diced (OPTIONAL)
- 8 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 ½ tablespoons ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons masa, OR fine corn meal
- 1 cup whole milk, warmed
- Chopped fresh cilantro
- Crushed ortilla chips
- Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- Chunks of avocado
- Sour cream
- Pico de gallo
- Pickled or fresh diced jalapeños
- Rinse and drain beans and place in the bottom of a large (7- to 8-quart) slow cooker. Lay chicken breasts on top, and add garlic, green chiles, and jalapeño (if using) to the slow cooker. Carefully pour chicken broth over ingredients, and season mixture with cumin, paprika, cayenne (if using), and black pepper. Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or until beans are tender.
- An hour before serving, remove chicken to a plate or cutting board. Mix masa (or corn meal) into warm milk, stir mixture into white chili, and replace lid of slower cooker. In the meantime, cut chicken into large chunks and shred it with two forks. Add chicken back to the white chili and taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, or spices, if necessary. Cover and continue to cook for one more hour.
- Before serving, garnish white chili with a generous amount of cilantro, crushed tortilla chips, and shredded cheese, plus whatever other toppings appeal to you!
- In lieu of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and/or thighs, you may use an equivalent amount of your favorite bone-in chicken pieces. Just discard any skin or bones when you remove the chicken to shred it.
- Instead of crushed tortilla chips, this white chili is also delicious with cornbread or corn tortillas.
- Make this white chili as spicy or as mild as you wish by adjusting or omitting the jalapeño and/or cayenne pepper. If you just want the flavor of a fresh jalapeño without the heat, remove the seeds and membranes before finely dicing it and adding it to the crock pot.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman