Arctic White Bean and Chicken Chili

We’re driving back from Wisconsin after a family day and I started thinking about what to make for dinner. Option 1 – leave the kids with Jeff while I go to the store. Option 2 – create something with that was in the cupboard. Jeff suggested Option 3 – Chipotle. Since rice isn’t in the cards for me and the temperature outside (-12) made salad seem insufficient, I decided to roll the dice and create out of the cupboard. Thanks to Epicurious and a few substitutions, this turned out to be a great winter chili. I think I’ll make it again – this time by choice.

Arctic White Bean and Chicken Chili
When it’s bone-chilling cold outside, you need something warm to stick with you. This chili did it for me and came together in a fairly quick 35 minutes. I received a small jar of fennel pollen a few months ago and haven’t been sure how to use it – so I put it in as I didn’t have aniseed. It was a good decision. The chili is slightly warming but not spicy. Add a can of green chilis (I didn’t have any) if you want to up the heat. Adapted from this Epicurious recipe.

2T canola oil (or whatever you have)
1 onion, chopped
4 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 t chili powder
1 T Cumin
1/2 t dried crushed red pepper
1/4 t fennel pollen (optional, but this is magical stuff.)
2 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
3 15 oz cans white beans (cannellini, great northern, or whatever is in the cabinet) drained and rinsed, reserving 1/2 cup bean liquid
2 cups chicken broth
Heavy Cream – a splash to taste. (I didn’t use much – maybe 2 or 3 T)
grated cheese and/or cilantro to garnish, if you’re feeling fancy

  1. Warm your soup pot on medium heat with a swirl or two of the oil.
  2. Saute the onion and garlic until it softens, about 4 minutes.
  3. Toss in the chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, and fennel pollen; stir to coat and let it toast for a moment. Saute with onion and garlic for 2 more minutes.
  4. Push the onion and spices to the side of the pan, ideally inched off of direct heat (I shoved my pan over a bit, with the onions just off the flame on my gas range)
  5. Evenly brown the chicken for 5 minutes
  6. Add the beans, give a quick stir to coat, then add the stock, reserved bean liquid, and a splash of cream. Bring up to a simmer and stir occasionally until the chicken is tender and the flavors have blended together, about 15 minutes.
  7. Ladle into bowls and eat up.

I will confess that my kids did not taste this one – they opted for Chipotle with dad. I enjoyed the leftovers for lunch on Monday AND Tuesday – good enough that I didn’t get bored with it two days in a row. A tasty rarity.

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