White Bean Chicken Chili


Chock full of beans, spicy peppers and tender chicken, this chili is something spicy and hearty to keep you going on a cold winter day. I have brought it to work often this winter, and every time I heat it up in the microwave, people are inevitably drawn to the staff room by the smell.

“Oh my goodness,” they peer into the bowl and inhale deeply, “What ARE YOU EATING? It smells amazing.” Honestly it really does. I’d daresay I’m addicted to this chili, if I were to be completely truthful. I’ve made it more times this winter than any other soup or stew. Besides the fact that it’s delicious, it also packs really well in a lunch box and stands up to the freezer, which is a must in my house.

Tomatillos, often a mystery to me at the grocery store, can be found in the produce section. You don’t have to do much with them in this recipe other than wash and the roast them in the oven before chopping and adding to the pot. They add some wonderful flavour and your tomato hating children may let them pass without knowing what they are. Use this to your advantage!


A word about hot peppers; always start small. I usually use 1/2 of a seeded hot chile, and that’s enough for me. You can use more if you wish, and here is where you may want to experiment a little so that you can judge for yourself and your family how much heat is appropriate. Also, be sure to prick the pepper well with a knife before you roast it; otherwise, the little thing will explode all over your oven and you’ll have nothing left for your chili.


If you choose to not roast the chile but instead sauté it along with the onions (which I have done before when I forgot the roasting step), be sure to use caution. Not only are those hot pepper juices spicy enough to heat your dish, but I’ve had long lasting burning sensations in my fingers just from handling them for chopping. Not to mention if you forget and rub your lips or eyes - ouch! Gloves would probably be a good idea. I remove the seeds of the chile, and therefore a good deal of the heat, but I’m finding that the chiles I’ve been using still have a good amount of bite even without the seeds.



  • 1/2 -1 hot chile (jalapeno or another spicy chile)
  • 1/2 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 300 g fresh tomatillos
  • 5-6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 1 small bunch of fresh cilantro
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • Can of green chiles
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 3 cups white beans (cannelli or white kidney beans, or other small white bean)
  • Lime



Preheat the oven to 350F and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.

Score the bottom of each tomatillo with a knife in an X shape and give the hot pepper a good stab or two. If you don’t do this, they will explode in your oven as they roast. Roast the tomatillos and peppers for about 15-20 minutes until they are softened and browned a little. Once they are cool enough to handle, chop the tomatillos and hot pepper.

While you are waiting, chop the stems off the bunch of cilantro and set the leaves aside. Chop up the stems finely.

In a large, deep skillet, sauté the chicken thighs over medium heat with a bit of oil until browned on both sides; remove to a plate and set aside. Once they are cool enough to handle, chop into bite sized pieces.

Add the onions, sweet red pepper, garlic, hot chile, and cilantro stems to the pan. Stir and cook until softened and fragrant; about 3 – 4 minutes. Sprinkle with cumin, salt, pepper and coriander. Continue to saute about a minute longer.

Sprinkle flour over the vegetable mixture and continue to stir and cook another minute or so.  Gently add the broth, stirring and loosening up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. The mixture will thicken slightly. Add the beans, roasted tomatillos, roasted hot pepper, canned green chilies, and chicken. Bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Zest the lime over the pot before cutting it in half and squeezing in the juice. Chop the cilantro leaves and add to the chili just before serving.  Taste and adjust the seasonings. You can top the chili with crushed tortilla chips and/or avocado slices when serving, if you like.

Serves 4-6

Picture of Karen Humphrey

Author: Karen Humphrey

Karen lives in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia where she is mom to her grown son Kevin (21) and wife to John. By day, she works in an elementary school and can be found flipping pancakes in the breakfast program or teaching kids to read, calculate math and cook. She’s known for getting reluctant eaters to try new things-especially vegetables! In her spare time you’ll find Karen reading, in the kitchen experimenting, drinking coffee, or out with the husband on their Yamaha motorcycle.

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