White Chili

My friend Steve-Anna, who has been tempting me with tales of her white chili for years, finally sent me the recipe. It originally comes from the Beyond Parsley, by the Junior League of Kansas City, MO. Both she and I have modified the base recipe. For the version pictured above, I used canelli beans instead of Great Northern which cook up faster than the 3 hours called for in the recipe. Also I’ve added some jalapeno pepper for more heat. The base recipe is tasty, but like most white chilis, a little mild. Steve-Anna’s notes for her modifications and a photo of her chili are at the end of the recipe.


  • 1 lb large white beans, soaked overnight in water, drained
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped (divided)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 4-ounce cans chopped green chilies
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4 cups diced cooked chicken
  • 3 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, chopped (optional)


1 Combine beans, chicken broth, garlic and half the onions in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until beans are very soft, 3 hours or more. Add additional water (or watered-down broth), if necessary.

2 In a skillet, sauté remaining onions in oil until tender. Add chilies and seasonings and mix thoroughly. Add to bean mixture. Add chicken and continue to simmer 1 hour. Check seasoning, add jalapeno or serrano to level of desired hotness.

3 Serve topped with grated cheese. Garnish with cilantro, chopped fresh tomato, salsa, chopped scallions, and/or guacamole. Serve with fresh warmed flour tortillas or tortilla chips.

Photo by SA Stephens

Notes from Steve-Anna: I love black-eyed peas, and I don't ever remember to soak the beans overnight, so I use canned. I use 2 cans of black-eyed peas and one can of great northern beans instead of the dried white beans. I also use a large red onion instead of white ones. For the chicken, I saute chicken breasts cut in 1/2" strips in olive oil (1-2 tbsp)...I season the meat with my favorite steak seasoning, D.L. Jardine's. It seems to tenderize the chicken and gives just that extra bit of flavor. While I'm sauteing the chicken, I chop it into smaller, bite-sized pieces before adding to the soup. I'm a little shy on cayenne, so I use a little less than 1/4 tsp.

Main Ingredients