The first time I ate white chicken chili, I fell in love. I’d always been a fan of tomato-based red chili, but the white version – flavored with green chiles 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 the dish creamy without cream, I thickened it by mashing up some of the white beans. Combined with a tiny bit of reduced-fat sour cream, they 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 up – and a very good source of folate and manganese.
As written, the recipe isn’t especially spicy. To save time, I call for canned green chiles, which are quite mild, and generic chili powder (a blend of ground chili peppers and spices, often oregano and cumin).
If you wanted to heat it up, use your favorite fresh chiles. Poblanos – roasted, peeled and chopped – would be perfect, as would chopped and sautéed jalapeños and serranos. Or just finish the dish with your favorite hot sauce.
And don’t forget the garnishes. They add so many layers of flavor and texture that they’re well worth the extra work.
Sara Moulton hosts public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals.” Her most recent cookbook is “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”