The first time I ate white chicken chili, it was wrapped in a burrito. And I fell instantly in love. Of course, I'd always been a fan of tomato-based red chili, but the white version - flavored with green chili peppers and thickened with sour cream - struck me as cleaner.
So here is my lightened-up version of white chicken chili. It can be eaten straight up by the bowl, over rice (preferably brown) or spooned into a whole-wheat tortilla. To make this dish creamy without any cream, I thickened it by mashing up some of the white beans. Combined with a tiny bit of reduced-fat sour cream, the mashed beans provide this impeccably slimmed-down chili with an unexpectedly luxurious texture.
Good flavor and thickening ability aside, white beans also happen to be a powerhouse of good nutrition. They're a terrific source of fiber - which means this chili will fill you - and a very good source of folate and manganese.
The base of this chili is ground chicken and white beans, both of which are affordable. If you can't find ground chicken, use ground turkey. And if you're not a fan of either, you're welcome to swap in lean ground beef.
As written, this recipe isn't especially spicy. To save time, I call for canned green chili peppers (which are quite mild) and generic chili powder (a blend of ground chili peppers and spices, often oregano and cumin). But if you want to heat it up, you can lose the canned chilies in favor of fresh ones.
Don't forget the garnishes. Even though they require extra work, I can't recommend them highly enough.
WHITE CHICKEN CHILI WITH LIME
Yield: 6 servings
1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 cup finely chopped yellow onion 1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped 1 pound ground chicken or turkey 1 tablespoon minced garlic 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon dried oregano 1/2 cup white wine (optional) 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (use 2 cups if not using the wine) Two 15 1/2-ounce cans white beans, drained and rinsed 4 1/2-ounce can chopped green chilies (use less if you prefer a very mild chili) 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream Salt and ground black pepper
To serve: Chopped scallions Chopped fresh cilantro Grated low-fat Monterey Jack cheese Lime wedges
In large nonstick or stick-resistant skillet over medium, heat oil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add the onion and red pepper, then cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add the chicken and cook, breaking up the any large pieces, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic, chili powder, flour, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the white wine, if using, and the broth in a stream, whisking. Bring the mixture to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, use a fork to mash 1 cup of the beans. Add both the whole and mashed beans and the chilies to the chili and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the sour cream and cook until hot. Season with salt and pepper.
Ladle the chili into bowls and accompany at the table with garnishes.