I remember the first time I ever tasted white chicken chili. I was in college at Texas A&M University, and my good friend, Anne, and I had met for lunch at a specialty foods gift shop named Wynonna's Pantry. It was their "soup of the day." I took one spoonful and I was in heaven. I loved the flavors of green chilies, cumin, coriander, and cheese. I ate slowly and savored every single bite, not wanting it to end! Can you imagine my delight when I called my mom that evening to tell her about this chili, and she informed me that she had a recipe similar to what I was describing?! Shortly afterwards, I tried that recipe and Hallelujah! it was a spot-on clone of the kind I had eaten at Wynonna's.
A side of cornbread is a must when I serve this, and if there's jalapeno jelly to spread on that cornbread, even better. While I prefer to make this from a bag of dried beans and homemade stock (from cooking the chicken to shred for this recipe), you can also speed things up by using canned beans, canned stock and cooked chicken you already have on hand. I will include some notes at the end regarding that. And of course I have to say special thanks to my mom for giving the recipe to me way back when. It's been a family favorite for nearly two decades now.
Texas White Chicken Chili
1 pound dry great northern beans (could use navy beans instead)
1-1/2 quarts chicken stock
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
1 (4-oz) can chopped green chilies (or for more kick, use 2 cans)
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 cooked, diced chicken breasts
1 can corn, drained
1 cup Monterrey Jack cheese, grated
4 green onions, thinly sliced
Presoak beans. Combine beans, stock, half the onions, garlic and salt in a large pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 1-1/2 hours or until beans are tender. While beans are cooking, heat oil in skillet. Add remaining onions and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add chilies and seasonings; mix thoroughly and cook for several minutes, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Remove 2 cups of the bean mixture and mash. Return mashed beans to the pot with onion mixture. Add corn and cook until tender. Add chicken and heat through. To serve, spoon soup into bowls, sprinkle with grated cheese and top with sliced onions.
Variation: To speed things up, you can substitute 3-4 cans of navy or great northern beans in place of the bag of dried beans, and you can certainly buy canned chicken stock. But since you need both chicken stock and cooked chicken for this recipe, it just makes sense to me to just simmer some bone-in split breasts in a pot of water, which will give me both.