White Chicken Chili with Cilantro Sauce is definitely one of my favorite recipes. It’s easy, quick, healthy, and makes a lot of leftovers. While living in Florida, I probably ate chili only a couple times a year, because let’s face it, it’s not really a hot weather kind of food. Now that I live in New England, I make a soup and chili all the time. It’s such a comforting and hearty meal to have during the cold winter months, that it’s hard not to make it.
Living in New England and experiencing a “real” winter (with snow, ice, and all that good stuff), I have come to believe there’s only one good thing about the month of January, and that is the Super Bowl. I love football and I LOVE the Super Bowl. This year’s game is especially important because my Patriots are in it and, as we all know, the Super Bowl is a lot more fun to watch if your team is in it! WooooooHoooooo! GO PATS!
When I was thinking of what good eats to make for the upcoming game, my old stand-by White Chicken Chili came to mind. There was some leftover cilantro relish (made with cilantro, lemon juice, jalapeños, cumin, and salt) from our Indian dinner the night before and I didn’t want it to go to waste, so I started thinking about adding to the chili. I added more cilantro and cumin to the leftover relish, swapped out lime juice for lemon, left out the jalapeños (since they are already in the chili), and used some water to thin it out . Usually when I serve the white chicken chili, I have small bowls of chopped cilantro and lime slices on the side to add a little extra flavor, so I especially liked this cilantro sauce because it combined all of that in a single spoonful.
For another variation of the cilantro sauce, add it to sour cream and use it to top the chili. You can even use the cilantro sour cream to top nachos or tacos. Yum!
I love the cilantro sauce all mixed up in the chili. It’s pretty and tasty. To make a thicker chili, add less broth or purée some of the beans with an immersion blender or in a regular blender.
Try this White Chicken Chili with Cilantro Sauce for a healthy and lighter alternative to the tradition beef and red bean chili.
- FOR CHILI:
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1½ tsp ground cumin
- ¼ tsp ground white pepper
- 8-10 cups good quality chicken broth, homemade or store bought (use 8 cups if you want it thicker and less soupy, 10 cups if you want it thinner and more soupy)
- 2 cooked boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped or shredded (To cook chicken breasts: cover chicken with water and simmer until done, about 20 minutes)
- 4 cans (15.5 oz) white beans, drained and rinsed (navy, great northern, or cannellini)
- 1-2 Tb fresh or jarred jalapeño peppers, minced
- salt to taste
- shredded cheese, Monterey Jack or Cheddar (optional)
- extra minced jalapeños (optional)
- FOR CILANTRO SAUCE:
- 1½ cups fresh cilantro
- 2 Tb fresh lime juice or water
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- pinch of salt
- FOR CHILI:
- In a large dutch oven or soup to over medium-high heat, sauté onions and garlic for 3-4 minutes. Add oregano, cumin, and white pepper and cook together with the onion/garlic mixture for another minute.
- Add chicken broth, chicken, beans, and jalapeños to pot. Stir well and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for at least 20 minutes. Place in bowls and top with cilantro sauce, shredded cheese, and extra minced jalapeños.
- FOR CILANTRO SAUCE:
- Place all ingredients in a small food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add more lime juice or water if need to thin out.