White bean and chicken chili flavor-boosted with bold, smoky spices, chipotle chili and sharp tangy cheddar cheese.
Hearty, creamy white-bean chili (or any kind of chili, really) always makes me think of unstructured fall Sunday afternoons. It’s what I love about the seasons changing — that the food we’re hungry for transitions along with them, each day bringing new cravings and things to cook.
Like any great soup or stew, chili is a one-pot wonder. You can make it a day or two ahead (it only tastes better!), it’s deliciously satisfying and everyone is happy to have a warm bowl of it in front of them.
I like chili on the thicker side, with lots of beans and really bold spices. For this recipe, I took a cue from the smoky flavors of Mexican chorizo sausage, which I sometimes crumble and cook with the chili.
Traditionally, Mexican chorizo is a raw sausage (as opposed to cured, dried Spanish-style chorizo) made with pork and lots of seasoning. When I don’t have chorizo, chicken makes a good neutral canvas for the colorful blend of spices. Two kinds of paprika — regular sweet and smoked Spanish — and the heat of smoked chipotle peppers make this deep-red chili super flavorful.
Make a pot on a leisurely weekend, and double the recipe if you have a hungry family or want leftovers for another meal.
white bean chicken chili with cheddar and chorizo spices
Yield 4 - 6 servings
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 - 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 medium to large red bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)
- 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon EACH: ground cumin, ground coriander and paprika
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Black peppercorns in a peppermill
- 1 pound ground chicken thigh
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons chipotle chili with adobo sauce, chopped or pureed
- 3 (15-ounce) cans white navy or Great Northern beans, drained
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup creme fraiche or plain yogurt
- Thinly sliced jalapeno, optional for serving
- Heat the oil in a wide pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, garlic, bell pepper and jalapeno and cook 3-5 minutes over medium heat, until the onion is softened.
- Stir in the ground spices, cayenne and 8 - 10 grinds of black pepper. Let the spices cook in the oil for about a minutes to bloom their flavor.
- Add the chicken to the pot. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, stirring frequently to break the meat into pieces.
- Stir in the salt, tomato paste, chipotle, beans and water. Bring to a simmer. Drop the bay leaf into the pot and partially cover. Turn down the heat to a gentle bubble and cook 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and stir in the cilantro. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.
- Serve the chili in bowls topped with a spoonful of creme fraiche, some cheddar and jalapeno slices, if you like.