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This White Chicken Chili is the perfect bowl of comfort to ease you into fall

Sauteed onions, tender chicken and a touch of heat make this simple recipe a crowd-pleaser.

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Sarah's White Chicken Chili is the perfect bowl of Tex-Mex comfort to help ease you into fall.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum
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FARGO — The recent drop in temperatures is a clear sign that soup season has arrived, and this White Chicken Chili is the perfect bowl of comfort to ease you into fall. Lush and velvety, this chili manages to be hearty and filling, without the heaviness of a typical chili. Better still, it is so delicious that my two men at home cannot gobble it up fast enough – I call that a weeknight dinner winner.

A variety of aromatics and warm spices are incorporated into the chili to develop a terrific depth of flavor. One large onion is finely chopped and sauteed in butter until soft and translucent, and then a generous dose of minced garlic is added, along with a finely chopped jalapeno.

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Finely chopped fresh jalapeno and a generous amount of minced garlic add terrific flavor to the chili.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

To bring some heat to the chili, I use a blend of spicy peppers, including fresh jalapeno and canned green chiles. My men prefer their chili on the mild side, so I use two cans of mild green chiles and one can of hot, but you can adjust this according to your taste. At this stage, you could transfer these ingredients to a crockpot and let it slowly cook for four to six hours, or you can continue on the stove for about an hour until ready.

I use two pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breasts for this recipe, which I cut into large pieces and season with kosher salt and ground black pepper. The chicken is added to the aromatics along with a quart of chicken stock and two cans of Great Northern white beans.

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Great Northern beans bring flavor and protein, and also help the chili to thicken.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

For a touch of acid, I add a tablespoon of cider vinegar to pull all the flavors together, as well as a bay leaf for insurance. The chicken will cook as the chili simmers, and once it is tender and opaque in the center, I remove it from the pot and use two forks to pull it into shreds, then return it to the pot.

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Sarah uses two forks to pull the cooked chicken into shreds before returning it to the chili.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

The beans help the chili thicken as it cooks, and you can use any white beans, like Cannellini or Navy. Once the shredded chicken has been returned to the chili, I add a cup and a half of sweet corn, either fresh or frozen. The corn adds a splash of Tex-Mex to the chili and its lovely crunch enhances the texture.

At this stage, the chili only needs to cook until the corn is heated through, about ten minutes, and then I finish it off with a large dollop of sour cream, some freshly squeezed lime juice and a sprinkling of fresh parsley or cilantro.

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Freshly squeezed lime juice is added at the end to brighten up and pull the flavors of the chili together.
Sarah Nasello / The Forum

My son, Giovanni, says that the blend of peppers and corn make this chili more Mex than Tex, and described feeling almost tricked because, even though there is no tomato, ground beef or chili powder in the recipe, it still tastes and smells like chili.

You can serve this chili with the standard chili garnishes like sour cream, green onions and cheese, but I like to keep it simple with just a few tortilla chips and lime wedges.

This White Chicken Chili is easy to make with big flavor that will not leave you feeling sluggish after dinner. But, be warned – you may want to double the recipe because this comforting dish is a definite crowd pleaser. Keep warm and carry on.

White Chicken Chili

Serves: 10 to 12

Ingredients:

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
Kosher salt
Ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
¼ cup fresh garlic, minced (about 8 to 10 large cloves)
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
3 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chiles – mild, hot or a combination
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more for extra heat)
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 quart chicken stock
2 (15-ounce cans) Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 bay leaf
1 ½ cups sweet corn, frozen or fresh
½ cup sour cream
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped (optional)

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Directions:

Trim the fat from each chicken breast and cut each one into three pieces. Generously season the top and bottom of each piece with salt and pepper; set aside.

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion softens and becomes translucent, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the garlic and jalapeno and continue to cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped green chiles, cumin, onion powder, oregano, cayenne pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Place the pieces of seasoned chicken into pot. Add the chicken stock, beans, vinegar and bay leaf. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and simmer until the chicken is tender and fully cooked, about 35 minutes.

Remove the bay leaf and discard. Remove the chicken from the pot and place on a cutting board. Use two forks to pull the chicken into shreds. Return the shreds to the pot when done.

Add the frozen corn and stir to combine. Cover the pot and cook over low heat until the corn is warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Add the sour cream and lime juice, stirring until fully incorporated. Remove from burner and add the fresh parsley or cilantro, stirring until combined. Serve immediately with fresh lime slices, cheese and/or tortilla chips.

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To store: Transfer the chili to an airtight container and refrigerate for 3 to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

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Sarah Nasello / Inforum

Sarah’s Tips:

  • Cannellini or navy beans will also work in this chili.
  • For extra flavor and heat, feel free to add other chili peppers, like poblano, Anaheim or hotter.

To make this in a crockpot:

More recipes from Sarah Nasello
Columnist Sarah Nasello shares recipes for Horseradish-encrusted roasted beef tenderloin, Christmas brunch strata and Pookie’s Christmas ice cream cake.

  • Use a large pan to cook the onions, garlic, jalapeno, chiles, and spices, according to the directions in the recipe.
  • Transfer those ingredients to the crockpot and add the chicken stock, beans, vinegar and bay leaf. Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender, about4 to 6 hours.
  • Shred the chicken as directed in the recipe and return it to the slow cooker. Stir in the corn, cover the pot and continue to cook until the corn is heated through. Add the sour cream and lime juice, stirring to combine, followed by the fresh parsley. Serve and enjoy.

Recipe Time Capsule:

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Recipes can be found with the article at InForum.com.

“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.
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