Grandma’s White Chicken Chili

Sometimes, though not often, I am asked for something my mother-in-law makes. Generally the request comes from the girlchild, but as is traditional with such requests I’m not entirely sure that the results are ever going to measure up to the originals.

Part of the problem, in this particular case, was that the girlchild is adamant that she will not countenance the inclusion of onions in any recipe, including the ones her grandmother uses, even those which she eats voluntarily and remembers with fondness when made with onions by said grandmother. I mention this because as I set about making the recipe she asked for, and was getting the ingredients together, she vetoed the onion. I pointed to where is was located on the ingredients list in her grandmother’s email…didn’t matter. “I asked you to make it for ME so please do it without them!” Nevertheless, I give you the original recipe since I know that you, my sensible reader, will not leave off the onion.

4 chicken breasts, boiled & chopped (I shredded them instead, as the ready bits soak up flavor better)
1/2 tsp dry garlic
1 large chopped onion
2 cans undrained navy beans
2 cans undrained northern beans (I am sure cannellini would also be fine)
3 cans chicken broth (I used 3 cans of water with a little chicken broth concentrate to boil the chicken, and drained off half the fluid and saved it in case the chili needed moistening after being in the slow cooker. It didn’t.)
1 tsp cumin
1 can chopped green chiles
salt & pepper to taste
Cook in a large pan 50-60 minutes (or 2-3 hours in a crockpot, as I did)
Finish off with sour cream and/or grated cheese.

My MIL’s note indicates that the results will be soupy, which is why I drained out some of the broth before mixing in all the other stuff. By all means leave it in if you would rather have chili soup, or if you are planning to have this over rice and need the extra liquid. Please note that this recipe is not hot in the slightest, and if you like detectable levels you’ll need to at least double the cumin.

One note – some sources recommend draining and rinsing canned beans to reduce gas. This recipe has plenty of liquid, but the canned bean juice is thick; if you do rinse the beans you might need to compensate with another thickener.

As for me, I can’t say in all honesty that I care too much for white chili. I prefer dark tomato-y beefy goodness with lots of sweet pepper chunks and sweet corn and at least three kinds of beans. So take this in the spirit it is given – a nostalgic treat for a teenager whose palate is less adventurous than we’d prefer.


Do you enjoy classic adventure TV? I’m reliving some great shows from my own childhood with my four year-old son. Come join the fun at Fire-Breathing Dimetrodon Time!