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White Chili {or maybe kind of tan}

White Chili with Cheddar

White Chili with Cheddar

Whenever I make white chili I think of my sister Dawn who hosts Super Bowl Sunday for her hubby and friends each year.   Several years ago she called me for the recipe for white chili.  She jotted as I read it off to her and then she got off the phone and promptly lost the recipe.  We laughed as she wrote it down and dashed off to the store to buy a few items she needed yet.



I tried not to laugh the third time she called for the recipe, having lost it somewhere out shopping.  Whether she left it in the grocery cart or it got lost in a coat pocket I never heard.  But I smile and think of Dawn every time I make the chili.  Dawn isn’t usually a bimbo or anything close.  She was just working on too many things at once and had very bad luck that day.  I wonder if she’s made it since or even remembers that crazy Super Bowl.  I must ask next time we talk.

I found the recipe for white chili back when little Jdawg was about 2 years old.  Someone had given me a copy of a WIC recipe book from the state health unit in our town.  I’d gone in to get his 2 year shots and got a cookbook.  I was thrilled; I read cookbooks back then, looking for new creative ways to feed my toddler something besides Spaghetti-Os.

The original recipe calls for dried navy beans, soaked overnight.  I followed that part faithfully for a lot of years when I made the chili.  Eventually I got lazy and those canned white beans were my new go-to, faster ingredient.  They didn’t require quite as much advance planning and I’ve never been strong on that.  I will list both beans in my recipe.  If you are wise and thrifty and aren’t afraid to soak your own dried beans, you are free to do so!

Holy Trinity: Celery, Onions, Peppers

Holy Trinity: Celery, Onions, Peppers

Son Jdawg reminded me of the recipe a few months back when he called to ask why his white chili wasn’t as flavorful as he remembered mine to be.  I told him I’d always amped up the ingredients, seasonings and the green chilies amount.  The original recipe was written to be fairly mild and pretty bland so as not to scare away younger children.  I’m not sure who those children are; mine loved spicy foods, salsas, chilis, etc.


Both of my children were very young they developed palates for spiced foods.  At 2 years little Jdawg would climb up on the table and sit and dip chips into fairly hot salsa and happily eat them.  It made me laugh but the grandmothers were both a bit annoyed at his double-dipping ways, not to mention the fact that he was sitting in the middle of the dining room table.  Hey, he was only 2!  I quickly learned to always provide him with his own cup of salsa.  And to train him not to climb on the table.  At least not while a grandma was visiting!

When I made white chili the other day it tasted different than I remembered.  I think the type of ground turkey makes a big difference in this dish.  My ground turkey was all dark meat and a bit strong, and that carried through to the finished dish’s flavor.  I didn’t dislike it; it was just different.  And as usual I looked at it and thought I really should rename it “green chili” or “beige chili”.  White is only a vague word used because there are no tomatoes in this recipe.

White Chili

White Chili

The chili is great served with a topping of shredded cheese: either monterey jack or cheddar.  It’s also good with a dollop of sour cream stirred in to make it more of a creamy chili.  I even like it served with some crushed tortilla chips in it!

White Chili

1 pounds northern beans; dried  or 3 cans drained, rinsed white beans
2 teaspoons garlic; dry, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions; chopped
3 stalks celery; chopped
1 sweet bell pepper; chopped
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons cumin
1 small can chopped green chilies or chopped jalapenos
2 pounds ground turkey
4 cups chicken broth
4 ounces monterey jack or cheddar cheese; shredded

Soak beans overnight.  Drain, rinse, and cover with water. Simmer until tender.  If not using dried beans ignore and continue to next step.

In a dutch oven brown the onions, celery and peppers in oil.  When the onions are translucent, add the ground turkey and continue frying, breaking up the meat until it is separated and it is all cooked through and crumbly.  Add beans and all other ingredients but cheese; cover and simmer an hour if using dried beans.  If using canned beans leave uncovered and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve hot topped with shredded cheese.Tiara Logo

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