Thursday, October 21, 2021

Harvest White Bean Chicken Chili

Here's an easy recipe for white bean chicken chili that has all the classic flavor elements you crave like earthy ground cumin, fragrant green chiles, creamy white beans & savory chicken + lots of healthy vegetables such as onion, carrot, celery, sweet bell pepper, zucchini, and corn. Fix it tonight for a light, yet comforting meal that'll keep you warm in the cooler months. It's also freezer-friendly! (gluten-free, grain-free & dairy-free)

Harvest White Bean Chicken Chili (Easy & Healthy Recipe)

Last year I shared my creamy white chicken chili recipe, which is made with bone-in chicken thighs & cream cheese. It's ridiculously good but pretty decadent with all the creaminess.

So, I'm sharing another version that's on the lighter side for y'all. White chicken chili is one of my all-time favorite soups (errr chili) so I like to switch things up throughout the year. 

This one uses leftover cooked chicken to save time (similar to my chicken tortilla soup recipe) and includes vegetables that are in season during late summer and early fall, so it makes an excellent meal for transitioning into cooler weather. Or when you live in the South and you're ready to celebrate autumn but it's still 80+ degrees outside.

That's pretty much all of us in Texas! Despite this, we stubbornly crank up the A/C so we can put up decorations, pull out our comfiest sweaters, make batches of chili, soup, pumpkin muffinspumpkin spice lattes, and apple cider sangria to create those cozy fall vibes. All the sweating is absolutely worth it. 

And the good news? This chili freezes well so if you have an abundance of zucchini (or other summer veggies like squash, okra, corn, or tomatoes) on hand then you can make several batches to use up part of your harvest. 

Freeze all the chili in smaller portions so you can enjoy multiple homemade meals in the depths of winter, or gift some of it to your friends, family, and neighbors. A surprise soup delivery - how sweet! 

Here's an idea: pair the chili with a loaf of bread (or homemade cornbread muffins), some butter & maybe a bottle of wine (or sparkly water) for a simple food-themed self care gift basket

Ingredients For Making Harvest White Bean Chicken Chili

Ingredients For White Bean Chicken Chili

  • Bacon Grease or Olive Oil: This adds a bit of flavor & body to the soup since we're using lean chicken meat. 
  • Onion, Celery & Carrots (a.k.a. mirepoix): These are the main aromatics that create the base for the soup. Celery is one of my favorite ingredients for white chicken chili. It's even better if you add in chopped-up celery leaves or a bit of dried celery seed, too.
  • Sweet Bell Pepper (Red, Orange, or Yellow): I use sweet bell peppers often in recipes because they have a mild sweetness and plenty of vitamin C. They freeze well, so if you find them on sale for a dollar or less per pepper, dice them and flash freeze them for recipes like this. 
  • Jalapeno: This adds a mild pop of heat to the soup. If you don't have any fresh chiles on hand, substitute a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of ground cayenne pepper or crushed red pepper flakes instead. 
  • Garlic: I always use a generous amount of fresh garlic in my soup & chili recipes. It's healthy (crush the cloves first & let them sit to release the allicin) and tastes fabulous.
  • Ground Cumin: This is another KEY ingredient for white chicken chili, so definitely don't skip it! Ground cumin seed powder adds an earthy flavor that makes the dish. 
  • Ancho Chile Powder: Instead of using "chili powder" which is a mix of dried chiles, herbs, aromatics, and salt, I prefer to use a single dried chile powder for a more pronounced flavor. Ancho chile powder is made by drying fresh poblano chiles and then grinding them up. It has a dark red color & mild heat. If you can't find this, look for a New Mexico chile powder instead. 
  • Dried Oregano & Sweet Paprika: I add equal parts of these two spices for a bit of fragrance, flavor, color & earthiness. If you already have a jar of "paprika" in your pantry it's most likely the sweet variety, so you're good to go. 
  • Salt & Pepper: I season throughout the process (starting with the onion, carrot & celery), add more salt & pepper before the broth goes in, then taste at the end to add more if it needs it.  
  • Canned Diced Green Chiles: This is one of the key ingredients for white chicken chili. You can find inexpensive (4 oz) cans of these green chiles in almost every grocery store. In August & September during the Hatch chile season, you can buy your own fresh green chiles to roast, peel & chop up for a variety of recipes (the smell of them roasting is heavenly). 
  • Canned White Beans: I prefer Great Northern beans since that's what I grew up eating, but other white beans like navy, cannellini, or even pinto work, too. 
  • Chicken Broth: I prefer to use homemade chicken broth that I keep in the freezer since it adds WAY more chicken flavor + a bit of fat to the soup. But, I always keep cartons of store-bought chicken broth in my pantry as a backup when I'm making meals last-minute. 
  • Zucchini: This helps bulk up the soup in a healthy way (more veggies is a good thing). If you can't find zucchini, substitute yellow squash or sliced okra (fresh or frozen). 
  • Cooked Chicken (Shredded or Chopped): I typically use rotisserie chicken to save time and like to use a mix of white & dark meat. 
  • Sweet Corn (Fresh or Frozen): I prefer to use frozen sweet corn these days since it's convenient to keep on hand. But, I grew up eating a lot of canned corn, so that definitely works if you prefer. If you want to bump up the flavor, make blackened corn in a cast-iron skillet and add that to the chili. 
Homemade White Bean Chicken Chili (Easy & Veggie Packed)

How to Make Harvest White Bean Chicken Chili

Here's a rundown of the basic technique. This is easy & fairly quick for a soup since we're using pre-cooked chicken and faster cooking veggies.

  1. Saute the Onion, Carrot, Celery & Sweet Bell Pepper: Cook these firmer vegetables in the bacon grease or olive oil until they've softened and have stopped releasing their liquid. This adds some aromatics, which creates a layer of healthy flavor for the chili. 
  2. Stir in the Jalapeno, Garlic & Dry Spices: Cook for 1-2 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant. Adding the spices now helps to distribute them into the chili properly so they're not just floating on top. 
  3. Dump in the Diced Green Chiles, White Beans & Chicken Broth: This is enough broth to cover all the veggies, beans & chicken by the end, but if you decide to add extra vegetables or beans, you may need to add extra broth (or water) to make sure everything is fully covered. If you do that, make sure to measure in a bit more salt to compensate for the dilution. 
  4. Bring to a Boil then Simmer: When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low so it's gently simmering (you want to see some bubbles) then cook for about 25 minutes. 
  5. Add Zucchini, Shredded Chicken & Sweet Corn - Continue Simmering: If you're using frozen corn, this will drop the temperature of the chili, so you'll need to increase the heat for a few minutes to bring it back to a simmer. Once that happens, continue cooking for about 10 minutes or until the sliced zucchini is tender. 
  6. Serve with Desired Toppings: I like to top my white chicken chili with shredded cheese, sliced green onions & sour cream. Sometimes I'll add in the juice from 1-2 lime wedges for a bright punch of flavor. If you like heat, a few slices of raw jalapeno are amazing on top.

Harvest White Chicken Chili Recipe

What To Serve with White Chicken Chili

  • Cornbread: This is my favorite pairing for white chicken chili (or ham & bean soup). These days I fix a batch of my honey cornbread muffins (they take less than 30 minutes from start to finish), which are moist and slightly sweet. 
  • Tortilla Chips: When I'm in a rush or don't want to turn on the oven, salted tortilla chips are my go-to for dipping into the brothy chili. 
  • Crusty Bread or Rolls with Butter: The obvious choice when you want simple, carby goodness to pair with your main dish. Most times I'll pull sliced bread or rolls directly from my freezer and reheat in the oven (they have a much longer shelf life that way).  
  • Toasted Naan Bread with Butter: When I have leftover naan bread on hand from making chicken hummus naan wraps, I'll use it as a side for cozy meals like this. It's soft & super comforting. If you're in the baking mood, you can try this homemade version from Half Baked Harvest. 

White Bean Chicken Chili (Easy Cold Weather Food)

More Cozy Recipes You'll Love:

white bean chicken chili, white chicken chili, easy, best, healthy
Main Dish
Yield: 6-8 servings
Author: Elaina Newton - The Rising Spoon
Harvest White Bean Chicken Chili

Harvest White Bean Chicken Chili

Prep time: 20 MinCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 1 Hour
An easy recipe for white bean chicken chili that has all the classic flavor elements you crave + lots of healthy vegetables. Fix it tonight for a light, yet comforting meal that'll keep you warm in the cooler months. It's also freezer-friendly! (gluten-free, grain-free & dairy-free)


  • 2 tablespoons of bacon grease or olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (yellow or sweet), diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 1 sweet bell pepper (red, orange, or yellow), diced
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 small jalapeno, finely diced (or sub 1/4 to 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons of minced garlic (about 4 big cloves)
  • 1 tablespoon of ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of ancho chile powder (or New Mexico chile powder)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sweet paprika
  • 2 (4 oz) cans of diced green chiles (mild or hot)
  • 3 (15 oz) cans of white beans, drained & rinsed (Great Northern, navy, or cannellini)
  • 4 cups of low-sodium chicken broth (or homemade chicken bone broth)
  • 2 cups of cooked chicken (shredded or chopped - I typically use rotisserie chicken)
  • 1 medium zucchini, thinly sliced & quartered
  • 1 cup of sweet corn, frozen or fresh
Toppings (Optional):
  • shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, or a jack mixture), sliced green onion, sliced raw jalapeno, sour cream, or fresh lime juice


  1. Measure the bacon grease or olive oil into a large pot or Dutch oven (5.5 quarts) and set to medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery & sweet bell pepper, along with 1 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 a teaspoon of black pepper. Cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the jalapeno, garlic, cumin powder, ancho chile powder, oregano, paprika, and remaining salt + pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes, stirring once or twice (watch the garlic so it doesn't burn).
  3. Dump in the canned green chiles, white beans & chicken broth and stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.
  4. Uncover, and add the shredded chicken, zucchini, and corn. Increase the heat slightly to bring the chili back to a rapid simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the zucchini is tender.
  5. Ladle into bowls while hot and add desired toppings like sliced green onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, sliced jalapeno, or fresh lime juice.


SUBSTITUTIONS: Instead of zucchini & corn, use 1 cup (3 oz) of sliced okra (fresh or frozen) and 1 cup (6 oz) of quartered cherry tomatoes.

FREEZING: This soup freezes well for at least 3 months, but you'll want to reheat it gently and take it off the heat as soon as it's hot so the zucchini doesn't completely fall apart (it's very tender).

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @therisingspoon on instagram and hashtag it #therisingspoon

Update (October 2021): This recipe was originally published in September 2014, but I've recently updated the post with new photographs, additional tips, a few extra ingredients & a printable recipe card.

Click Here to Save This To Your Homemade Recipes Board On Pinterest

Here's an easy recipe for white bean chicken chili that has all the classic white chicken chili elements you crave like earthy ground cumin, fragrant green chiles, creamy white beans & savory chicken + lots of healthy vegetables such onion, carrot, celery, sweet bell pepper, zucchini and corn. Fix it tonight for a light, yet comforting meal that'll keep you warm in the cooler months. It's also freezer-friendly! (gluten-free, grain-free & dairy-free)

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog. However, I ONLY recommend helpful products that I myself would use. And I'm really picky about what I share with you guys. Recommending products that I love or want to own helps me cover the costs of running this blog and keep providing you with free, helpful information. And it costs nothing extra for you. Thanks!

MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: The information included on this website is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. None of the opinions expressed here are meant to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. You should always consult your healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for your own situation or if you have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.

No comments

Post a Comment

Blogger Template Created by pipdig
Customized and Tweaked with Love by The Lady Gadget
Back to Top