Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Texas White Chicken Chili

Shortly after college, one of my friends shared with me her recipe for Texas White Chicken Chili. The first time I made it, it turned out great. It had a great depth of flavor. I eagerly made the recipe probably 10 more times, and without explanation, sometimes it turned out flat.

Since college, I've learned quite a few things about cooking. While I love the flavors that go into this soup, I knew that I could improve the techniques used. That way, we could be sure to get a really good soup every time, without fail. Unfortunately, the changes increased the hands-on time that it takes to make it.

So, I'll share with you both methods, letting you choose which you want to do. I've had people ask me for the recipe when I made it both ways. It's a tasty and healthy way to warm up your tummy and house. The tomatillos are tangy, the poblanos are mildly spicy, and there's such a richness of flavor that comes through in this low-fat soup.

If you haven't worked with tomatillos before, you're looking for green, firm fruit (much like the feel of a tomato). The easiest way to de-husk them is to soak them in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes. The husks will slide right off.

As with all recipes, quality of ingredients greatly affect the outcome of your meal. If possible, use homemade chicken broth. If you don't have that handy, America's Test Kitchen has taste tested chicken broths and found that Swanson's Organic Free-Range Broth is the best. I also use Penzey's concentrated chicken broth jar.

I can't tell if the photo makes the chili look greasy. In case it does, just trust me that it's really not greasy at all.

Texas White Chicken Chili
Adapted from Courtney's recipe and ATK's chicken chili recipe

3 lbs of bone in, skin on chicken (breasts and/or thighs), trimmed of excess fat and skin
1 T vegetable oil
8-10 tomatillos (approx 1 lb), husked, washed, and dried
2 poblanos, stemmed, seeded and cut into large pieces
2 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and minced (add some of the ribs for extra heat, if desired)
2 medium onions, cut into large pieces
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 can diced green chilies
4 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
4-5 cups of chicken broth
4 scallions, white and green parts sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
juice from 2-3 limes (optional)

Garnishes: Diced scallions or purple onion, sour cream, chopped tomatoes, diced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, lime wedges

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels then season well with salt and pepper. Over medium-high, heat the oil in a large dutch oven or stock pot. When the oil is running and just smoking, add the chicken skin-side down in a single layer into the pot. Do not crowd the chicken and do not move it until the skin is golden brown, about 4-6 minutes. Flip with tongs and lightly brown the second side for about 2 minutes. The chicken does not need to be cooked through. Transfer the chicken to a plate; when cool, remove and discard the skin. Repeat with remaining chicken until all are done.

While the chicken is browning, position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and place the tomatillos on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray lightly with vegetable oil spray. Broil the tomatillos for 5-10 minutes, until they start to blister and soften.

In a food processor, pulse half of the poblanos and half of the onions about 5 times. Scrape down the bowl and then pulse about another 5 times until it starts to look like chunky salsa. Transfer to a medium bowl and repeat with the remaining poblanos and onions. Set aside the empty but unwashed processor bowl.

Remove all but one tablespoon of oil from the dutch oven, and reduce the heat to medium. Add the poblano-onion mixture, minced jalapeños, 1/2 tsp salt, garlic, cumin, coriander, and oregano. Cover and cook until vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off heat.

Add one cup of the cooked vegetables to the processor bowl. Add one cup of beans and one cup of broth. Process until smooth. Add to the dutch oven of cooked vegetables.

In the unwashed processor bowl, pulse half of the tomatillos until chunky. Add to the dutch oven. Repeat with the remaining tomatillos.

Add to the dutch oven the skinless chicken, juices on the plate from the chicken, can of green chilies, and remaining chicken broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 20-40 minutes. Remove the chicken to a plate; let cool slightly.

Add remaining beans to the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes to thicken.

Shred or cut chicken into bite sized chunks, discarding the bones. Add the chicken back to the dutch oven, along with the scallions, cilantro, and lime juice (if using). Simmer for about 5 minutes to heat the chicken through, and be sure to season with more salt and pepper!

Top with any or all of the garnishes. I highly recommend the avocado.

If you want to make this ahead, wait to add the scallions, cilantro, and lime juice until just before serving. 

Courtney's Texas White Chili

One whole chicken
2 T dried oregano
2 T ground cumin
1 T ground coriander
4 cans cannellini beans
1 can diced green chilies
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 green onions, chopped
10 tomatillos, husked, washed, and diced
1 jalapeño, minced
salt and pepper
chicken broth (if needed)

Garnish: diced purple onions, tomatoes, avocados, monterey jack cheese, and sour cream.

In a large stock pot or dutch oven, cover the whole chicken with water. Add the oregano, cumin, and coriander. Cook for 2 hours or until tender.

Remove chicken from the stock. Debone and shred with fingers. Set aside.

Add to the broth, the beans, green chilies, garlic, green onions, tomatillos, jalapeño, chicken, salt, pepper, and extra broth (if needed). Cook for about 30 minutes.

Garnish and serve with french bread. Enjoy!!


  1. That looks so delicious - better than any other white chili I've seen before. I've actually never tried a chili like this, but I have seen them before and I've been a little curious. Although I'm really tempted to try your recipe out. I love all the flavors, especially those poblanos, the flavor of those brings back amazing food memories :D

  2. This looks delicious. Would love for you to share this with us over at

  3. mmm this looks so good! i will be adding this to my menu soon maybe sooner since it will be really cold next week! thanks!

  4. That looks like a pretty fresh recipe for dinner! Thanks for making this possible here in your blog. I thought I would give it a try.

  5. Hi!Your Courtney's Texas White Chili was soo delicious!!! I’d have to find a way to make it vegan, but I am sure it could be done! Thanks for sharing the recipe!


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