White Chicken Chili

It’s nearing the end of September, and in our house that’s official soup season! In fact, I’m in denial of the actual weather (which returned to the 80’s after a quick fall preview last week) and every day I crank up my air conditioner and light my apple spice scented candles and stare at the pumpkin display on my mantle just breathing in the aura of fall. Okay, that’s a total lie. Most of my day is spent chasing after crazy toddlers, wiping snot, sweeping floors that never get clean and watching Thomas the Tank Engine on an endless, eternal cycle. But I do it all with a pumpkin display in the background and the candles generally seem to overpower the scent of the baby’s loaded diaper. What can I say? I lead a glamorous life.

The Best White Chicken Chili
 We’ve had a lot of requests for soups lately, and lucky for you both Kate and I are a little obsessed with them. I have a lot of favorites, but most people who know me know that this one is at the top of my list. Partly due to the fact that I made it from things my pantry very rarely runs out of, so I end up making it a lot when other meal plans get tossed out the window. It’s really fast, and really easy, and it’s major comfort food for me. I often make a pot at lunch time and just keep it warm until dinner, grabbing a bowl or two in between!
The Best White Chicken Chili
It’s not spicy, but you could easily add jalapenos or a shot of tabasco to heat it up. Kids love it because they can put chips and cheese on it. Heck, I love it because you put chips and cheese on it. You could make it even quicker if you wanted by using pre-cooked chicken.

To start, you’ll cook up some chicken. You can definitely make this with pre-cooked chicken, but I do like the deeper flavor you get from actually making the soup in the pot you saute the other flavors with.  I like to use our lime oil in there, too.
The Best White Chicken Chili
Chicken, onion, and garlic cook up really quickly.  You would do this in a large soup pot or Dutch Oven.  The only reason I’m using a large skillet here is because it’s easier to shoot the photos!
The Best White Chicken Chili
When that’s mostly done cooking, you’ll add in some white beans (great northern or canellini work)
The Best White Chicken Chili
and also some diced green chilis.  These are mild, so they don’t add firey heat, just tons of flavor.  Don’t drain them, you’ll want all those good juices, too.
The Best White Chicken Chili
add a handful of seasonings, and then let it simmer away.
The Best White Chicken Chili
After a quick simmer, add in some fresh lime juice and chopped cilantro.  Then serve it in bowls with allllll the toppings.  Seriously, guys.  Don’t forget the toppings.
Sour cream, green onions, avocado, cilantro, jack or pepperjack cheese, tortilla strips/chips.  I also LOVE this soup with a loaf of warm, crusty bread smothered with this Creamy Jalapeno-Lime Butter.  When you dip the bread into the hot soup, the butter melts and it is seriously the most amazing thing.
Also good to note- this soup freezes beautifully!  If you do that, cook it until the very end and cool and freeze before you add the lime juice and cilantro.
 Those are better added fresh.  I’ve frozen this lots of times in single-serving containers for lunches at home or work! Or, you can even freeze them in a silicon mold. When hardened, pop them all into a zip-top bag and throw them in your freezer. For a quick and easy lunch, take out 2 or 3 “pucks” and re-heat — easy peasy!  If you’ve never made this one- put it on your menu this week.  It’s a family-favorite around here!
*For some reason, our printable recipe card for this recipe is having a technical glitch. We will put the printable version in as soon as it’s available. Thanks for your patience!*
White Chicken Chili
Our Best Bites
1 tablespoon Extra virgin Olive Oil (or non-stick spray)
1 pound boneless chicken, cubed (about 3-4 boneless, skinless breasts)
1 medium onion, diced
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans Great Northern Beans
1 3.5 oz can green chilies
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 lime
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
32 ounces chicken broth
For the Condiments:
(in addition to measurements above)
Sour cream or non-fat Greek yogurt
Chopped cilantro
Pepperjack or Jack cheese, shredded
Tortilla Chips (or make your own tortilla strips!)
In a large pot, heat olive oil. Add chopped onion and cook for about 2 minutes- just until it starts to become translucent. While onions are cooking, drain beans and rinse with cold water and set aside.
Sprinkle chopped chicken with a little salt and pepper and add to pot. Add garlic as well. Cook until there’s no more visible pink on the chicken, probably 3-4 minutes. Then add green chills – along with all of the juices in the can.
Add beans, cumin, oregano, coriander, salt, and a few turns of fresh cracked pepper. Stir to combine and then add chicken broth. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from heat and add the juice from one lime and the 1/2 C chopped cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Ladle into bowls and top with toppings.
Makes about 8 cups of soup.
I call this a chili, but it’s really a soup consistency. If you want it thicker, just reduce the amount of broth. Or, alternatively, take an additional can of beans (drained and rinsed) and place them in a blender. Ladle in a cup or 2 of the finished broth (avoid the chicken pieces, etc,) and puree until smooth. Add this mixture to the soup.
And in the spirit of history, I’ll leave one of my “old” photos here.  For posterity!
*Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links. 




  1. I find it so funny that you posted this NOW. I really wanted white chicken chili on Friday night so I was searching the house for the recipe. I almost called you to get it, but I was too hungry and I pretty much remembered the spices so I just threw some stuff together and luckily it turned out just as good as I remembered 🙂

    I was going to email you and suggest you put it on the blog so I could find it more easily next time!

    I think it should also be added that my favorite “condiment” is really a side- butter, garlic, lime juice and cilantro all whipped until fluffy and spread on chewy warm dipping bread- YUM!

  2. Yum! My recipe calls for cayenne pepper which gives it QUITE a kick, so that’s something else to try if you want it spicier. In fact, I started cutting it in half (but my DH always adds a few extra shakes to his bowl).

  3. Cami- good question. We actually need to do an entire post on oils because we get so many questions about it.

    I need to be better at always writing “Extra virgin olive oil” because that’s really the only kind you should use. I get lazy and just write olive oil assuming everyone can read my mind, lol.

    the “Extra” in the name means, premium, or the best. It’s the highest grade you can buy. I’ll go into the specifics in a later post, but that’s always what you should use.

    Plain olive oil is actually a blended product. It starts with a really low-grade virgin oil, but then it’s chemically altered and refined so they can sell it as olive oil. Yuck.

    There’s also “light” olive oil, but all that is, is the above chemically refined oil with *less* of the good stuff in it so it has a more mild flavor. It’s not light in calories or anything.

    Bottom line- always use extra virgin olive oil. You’ll find tons of different varieties and price tags, which can be kind of confusing. Olive oil is kind of like wine. Every brand will have a different look and taste depending on the olive harvest and flavor etc.

  4. Fall’s hitting the Seattle area with temperatures in the 60’s. I prefer white chili to the typical red chilis, so maybe I’ll try this sometime.

  5. Yay! I finally have a google account so I can leave comments. I can’t wait to try this soup. And I am hosting a cooking class at my home this Thursday so I can demonstrate your BBQ grilled pizza.

    It is definately not fall here in California. I am getting so tired of summer clothes!

  6. I’m one of those who has the “old” recipe so I’m definatly going to have to try it again. But we loved it the first time around! And no, fall has not hit in north central Utah! The mountains are beautiful red, but for Becka’s birthday on Saturday it was in the 80’s!! I’m decorating today so I at least feel like it’s fall!

  7. This looks great! Can’t wait to try it.

    P.S. What is the difference between pure olive oil, and extrta virgin olive oil? And which do you use?

  8. Oh my goodness! I was just looking through a soup cookbook this afternoon deciding that we NEED a soup week! My family might revolt if all they get is soup this week but if I start with this one how can they complain? Yum!

  9. Ooh, I actually have all these ingredients on hand (my cupboards are a little bare). Thank you for your perfect timing! I love a good soup that’s hearty enough for my husband to eat. This looks perfect.

    By the way, Kate, my roommate from college found your site so your buttons must be working!

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