White Chicken Chili is the perfect comforting soup recipe. This soup is made completely from scratch and is sure to become a family favorite.
As someone who could could eat soup seven nights a week in winter, my soup standards are very high. I want it to be more than a bowl of soup. I want it to be a meal. It should be both comforting and filling. And a good soup recipe, of course, should have a strong depth of flavor.
This White Chicken Chili recipe checks all those boxes and then some. It has a hint of heat that is balanced by it’s rich creamy broth. It has layers of flavors brought by jalapeños, spices, green chiles, beans, and corn. This soup is everything you want in a warm cozy dinner.
How to Make White Chicken Chili
- Sauté the vegetables. In melted butter cook jalapeño, garlic, and onion. Cook until the onion is translucent and the jalapeño is soft. This will tone down the heat in the jalapeño and bring out the flavor in the garlic and onion.
- Make a roux. Whisking flour into the butter and then adding chicken stock will create the agent necessary to thicken the soup – a roux. Read more about roux below.
- Season the soup and add the chicken. After adding in all the chicken stock, the spices, green chiles, and the chicken bring the soup to a boil. Then turn it down to a simmer. Continue simmering for 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Read more on this below.
- Shred the chicken. After the chicken is fully cooked, remove it from the pot and shred it. Given how hot the chicken is, I like to put mine in the base of my stand mixer and using a paddle attachment, use the mixer to shred the chicken quickly.
- Finish off the soup. Add the shredded chicken, white beans, corn, sour cream, and half and half to the pot. Allow it to heat through about two minutes before serving and enjoying.
Making Roux for White Chicken Chili
The key to making a rich creamy broth for a soup is making a roux. A roux is the combination of a fat (in this case butter) and all purpose flour. The flour coats the fat keeping it evenly suspended when you add in liquid.
I always emphasize that a roux will work best if you add the liquid (in this case chicken stock) slowly after the butter and flour are fully combined. Start with a few tablespoons at a time and only add more once what you just added is fully whisked in. The whole process should take less than a minute.
Cooking Chicken in Soup
When you cook chicken in liquid – whether in a soup or boiling to make shredded chicken – the cooking time can vary greatly because the difference in thickness of chicken breasts.
In this white bean chicken chili, it will take between 20 and 25 minutes to cook the chicken through. The best thing to do is use an instant read thermometer and remove the chicken to shred when it is 165 degrees.
If you don’t have an instant read thermometer, pull the chicken out at 20 minutes. Cut in half and check it’s doneness. If it is still pink, add it back to the pot for another 5 minutes.
I love cooking with fresh jalapeños. If you are nervous about the heat they bring to a dish, keep in mind that a majority of that heat lives in the ribbing and seeds of the jalapeño, which we aren’t using here.
To cut the jalapeño easily, think of it as a rectangle. Cut off each side, avoiding the ribbing and seeds. If you want to see this in action, check out the video in my Pico de Gallo.
How Spicy is White Chicken Chili
This recipe does have a slight kick to it. If I were rating it on a scale of one to ten where one is no spice at all and ten makes you want to cry, it would be a four. If you want to make it less spicy, you could use half a jalapeño or leave it out completely.
The green chiles in this recipe (I used cans marked “mild”) don’t add in heat. They really just bring flavor to the picture.
White Chicken Chili Leftovers
Store leftovers of this white chicken chili recipe in the refrigerator for up to four days. To reheat, place only the amount that you want to eat in a saucepan. Heat over low heat, stirring often, until it is warmed through.
This recipe is naturally made thick and creamy by starting off with a roux. Read more about what a roux is above.
This recipe has a hint of spice to it. If you would like to make it less spicy, you can use half a jalapeño or leave it out.
The difference is in the broth! Regular chili has a tomato based broth giving it’s famously red color. White chili has a base that starts with butter and flour, has a base of chicken stock, and has sour cream and half and half stirred in to achieve it’s white color.
This recipe is not gluten free as we use all purpose flour to make the roux and the base of the soup. You can, however, use almond flour to make the roux which will make the soup gluten free. As always, double check your ingredients to insure they are all gluten free if you are serving someone with a gluten intolerance.
Cream based soups are not my favorite to freeze. The risk is that the soup will separate when you thaw and reheat it. If you do decide to freeze it, thaw it overnight in your refrigerator and reheat it over low heat on the stove top, stirring frequently.
Other Creamy Soup Recipes
If you make this creamy white chicken chili, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think! I love hearing from you.
White Chicken Chili
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 small yellow onion diced
- 1 jalapeno diced fine with seeds and ribbing removed
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 10 ounces green chiles undrained (two 5 ounces cans)
- 2 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup low fat sour cream
- 1/2 cup half and half
- 30 ounces great Northern beans drained and rinsed
- 15 ounces canned corn drained
- In a heavy bottomed pot, over medium low heat, melt the butter. Add the onion, jalapeño, and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Whisk in the flour, and once fully combined with the butter, whisk in the chicken stock, a little at a time, adding more once what you just added is fully combined. Adding it more quickly as you go, this should take less than a minute.
- Add in the cumin, oregano, and green chilies and bring the stock to a boil. Add in the chicken, and turn the heat down to a simmer. You should still be able to see intermitent bubbles. Cook for 20 minutes or until the chicken registers 165 degrees on an instant read thermometer (the time this takes will vary depending on the thicknes off the chicken).
- Remove the chicken from the pot, shred it, and return it to the soup. Stir in sour cream, milk, corn, and beans and cook until everything is warmed through, about two minutes. Serve topped with sliced avocado, sour cream, cheese, and cilantro.
Here is a stupid question about the white chicken chili. I am assuming when making the stock you add the chicken breast uncooked??? So, after adding the spices and chiles, when that boils then add the uncooked chicken?
Lisa Longley says
Hi Bernadette! No stupid questions :) I’m using store bought stock in this recipe and not making it. The chicken breast does get added to the soup raw in step number 3 and you simmer it for 20 minutes or until it is fully cooked through.