A perfect time of year for chili, and this tangy, mildly spicy white-bean chili is as warming and comforting as a traditional one, but in a lighter, brighter form. Plenty of green chiles — fresh and canned — provide kick while creamy white beans mellow it all out. To decrease the heat level, remove and discard the seeds from the jalapeño before you mince it.
A large handful of chopped cilantro added at the end brings freshness, but if you don’t care for cilantro, pass it at the table along with the other toppings or omit it entirely. In the spirit of customizing your chili, you can make this in the slow cooker or on the stovetop*. Use 3 cups chicken stock in the slow cooker and 4 cups on the stovetop, where liquid is more likely to evaporate.
On addition to sliced scallions and chopped cilantro, we topped the chili with grated Cotija cheese. It is a Mexican, dry grated cheese, made from cow’s milk and can be compared to the taste of feta and parmesan. BTW, queso fresco means “fresh cheese” in Spanish, the best substitute for cotija if you can find it in stores or happen to have some on hand. It is very close in flavor to cotija but is a little bit milder.
*You can also cook the chili in a Dutch oven on your stovetop. In step 2, add 4 cups stock instead of 3 cups and let the mixture come to a simmer over medium-high. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
Slow Cooker White Chicken Chili
- 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 1 large yellow or red onion, finely chopped
- Kosher salt
- 10 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeño, minced
- 3 (4-oz.) cans chopped green chiles, hot, mild or a combination
- 2 tsp. ground cumin
- 2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. ground cayenne
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 2 (14-oz.) cans great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
- 1½ cups frozen corn
- 1 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro (about 1 small bunch), optional
- 1 lime, juiced (about 2 Tbsp.)
- Pickled jalapeño slices, sliced scallion, cubed avocado and/or sour cream, for serving
- In a large Dutch oven, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the onion, season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and jalapeño and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the chopped green chiles, cumin, onion powder, oregano and cayenne and stir until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
- *Transfer the mixture into a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. Generously season the chicken thighs with salt and add them to the pot. Stir in 3 cups chicken stock and the beans. Cover and cook on low until the chicken is tender, 4 to 6 hours.
- Shred the chicken using two forks. (You can do this directly in the pot, or remove the chicken to a bowl, shred it, then return it to the pot.) Stir in the frozen corn, cover and cook until warmed through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, if using, and lime juice. Season to taste with salt. Serve in bowls and pass the toppings at the table.
Adapted from a recipe Sarah DiGregorio for NYTimes Cooking