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15-Minute White Bean Chicken Chili


Image ©2011 Christopher Halloran Photography

I was in Virginia earlier this year to lend a hand after my father’s heart surgery. I wanted to prepare a simple but nourishing meal for his first night home from the hospital, so my mom suggested I make his favorite white bean chili with chicken.

I glanced over the recipe she handed me — noting the extensive use of cans — and said somewhat skeptically, “hmmm, this looks … easy. Who gave it to you?”

My mom looked at me oddly. “You did.”

So despite my wariness and complete lack of recall, I followed “my” chili recipe. It was surprisingly good. And it occurred to me that at some point along the way, I’d become a recipe snob. I’d abandoned many easy, low-cost, delicious meals simply because they didn’t include exotic ingredients, or require sufficient chopping, or called for (gasp!) something from a can.

Luckily, my quest for simplifying my life has released me from such snobbery. Sure, I’ll always prefer fresh, local ingredients to canned, so if there’s time, I might still prepare dried beans the night before; or add a chopped, sautéed onion and some fresh garlic with the salsa; or substitute shredded, grilled chicken for the canned (or leave the chicken out altogether for my vegetarian son).

But when there’s not time, it’s still perfectly good – and perfectly simple – just as written.

The recipe is easily doubled, and freezes quite well too. It also makes a really nice white bean soup – just omit the cheese and add a bit more broth.

Recipe: 15-Minute White Bean Chicken Chili

1 (12-oz) can chicken breast, drained
2 cans Great Northern beans, drained and well-rinsed
1 cup prepared salsa (I use a medium salsa to give it a bit more kick)
2 (12 oz) cans chicken or vegetable broth (I substitute Herb-Ox bouillon and water)
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
½ – 1 cup shredded cheese (sharp cheddar, Monterey Jack and Mexican blend are all good)
Garnish: Fresh lime juice, chopped cilantro or scallions, sour cream, salsa

Place chicken, beans, salsa, broth and seasonings in pot. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes to blend flavors. Stir in cheese and add garnish(es), if desired.

Serve with a green salad and tortilla chips (we love the organic white corn chips from Costco). For a heartier meal, this is also good served over cooked white or brown rice.


Linked up to Tasty Tuesday  over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Vicki B permalink
    04/07 8:06 PM

    Thanks for the recipe! I substituted some rotisserie chicken I had on hand, and there was dinner. Super easy…Perfect for a busy day!

    • Jennifer permalink*
      04/07 8:19 PM

      Yum — rotisserie chicken would be even better. (Hope your little — and big — ones liked it!)

  2. 04/10 3:43 PM

    I love White Chicken Chili, My DIL has a similar one but uses 2 cans of green chiles. I call it Kate’s White Kickin Chicken Chili. Now I know to substitute salsa if I don’t have the chiles. My husband also loves to add fresh cilantro. I keep forgetting to add that to her recipe. It’s such a fun and easy recipe that anyone can make and be a success at. I’m the perfect example since I’m no Kitchen queen.

  3. 04/13 8:05 AM

    Tami — I often use green chile/tomatillo salsa (salsa verde?) which would be very similar to the green chiles. And I beg to differ — you are definitely a kitchen queen with those mad recipe-naming skillz.

  4. 05/03 6:41 PM

    sounds like a delicious chili

  5. 06/08 11:26 AM

    Making it again Jennifer, I love this recipe! Thank you for sharing.

    • Jennifer permalink*
      06/08 11:58 AM

      So glad to hear it, Erin! We make it — or the veggie version — at least a couple times a month. Even cheaper when I plan enough in advance to use dried beans… :-)

  6. Jill permalink
    08/22 3:52 PM

    I made this with mango salsa instead of tomato

    Turned out great.

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