Back before my husband and I tied the knot and he whisked me away to the land of promise, I worked for a small, non-profit organization. I was there for three years, and I loved it; hundreds of miles away from my family, they became my local family.
One of the days I most looked forward to was soup and salad potluck day. One of the dear ladies I worked with, Betty, always brought in her signature soup, a White Chicken Chili. It was, among so many delicious options, my personal favorite, a fact that I shared with her on more than one occasion. I remember having the feeling that its recipe was a closely guarded secret, and I always imagined Betty in the kitchen tinkering with this and that until it had arrived at perfection. Looking back, I'm pretty sure I alone manufactured that story; I can't remember a single shred of evidence to support it. (At least, I hope that's true--otherwise, I could be in big trouble for sharing this recipe with you.) But it seemed a much more romantic and intriguing notion than reality: Betty, under shroud of night, clutching her cumin and cayenne, casting furtive glances about to check if anyone was hiding in the shadows, watching her develop her secret soup formula. She probably got the recipe from a book somewhere, but that isn't very exciting, is it?
When it came time for me to wed (doesn't that sound old timey?), the ladies I worked with threw me a bridal shower. Most gifts came from my registry, but there were, of course, several exceptions: some hand-knit dishcloths, a decorative wooden rooster (thanks, Sandy), a soup tureen with bas relief grapes and squash and things on it. The soup tureen was from Betty. I hadn't registered for it, and to be truly honest, it wasn't really my style (sorry, Betty, if you're reading this). But tucked inside that tureen was the best present I received all day: Betty's White Chicken Chili recipe.
I have since seen many versions of this recipe, and I'm sure they're all quite similar, but I've been making this one for years because it was a gift to me, and I love it. I'm passing it along to you in the hope that you will love it, too.
White Chicken Chili
1 48 oz. jar Great Northern Beans
4 cups chicken broth
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 (4 oz.) cans chopped green chilies
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 cups cooked chicken, diced
In a large dutch oven or soup pot, saute onion in oil until tender and translucent. Add chilies and spices and mix thoroughly. Add beans, broth, and chicken, and stir well. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour.
Betty even noted for our information: 415 calories, 16 grams of fat per serving.
Being health conscious, Betty probably doesn't do what I do after the soup is done: ladle it into soup bowls, and top it with shredded cheddar and a dollop of sour cream. But it's really, really good that way, even if you have to throw those 415 calories and 16 grams of fat out the window.