White Chicken Chili: A Seasonal Alternative

Everyone loves a good bowl of chili this time of year. This offers a healthy spin on the traditional recipe, which can be loaded with calories

* 4 large chicken split breasts (with skin and bones) 

* 2 tablespoons olive oil 

* 2 large sweet yellow onion, diced 

* 6 cloves of garlic, minced

* 1 bag frozen premium white pearl onions 

* 12 cups chicken broth 

* 5 16-ounce cans of white beans, rinsed and drained

* 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (more if you like it spicier) 

* 4 tablespoons of cumin 

* ½ teaspoon of cinnamon 

* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 

* Kosher salt to taste

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet tray. Sprinkle them heavily with kosher salt, and place in the oven to roast. Cook the chicken until the chicken is cooked almost all the way through, about 25 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy pot, add the olive oil, and then the diced onions and sprinkle them with salt.

Cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is beginning to soften and turn translucent.

Add the garlic and continue to cook over a medium heat. Make sure that the onions and garlic are not browning.

When the onions and garlic are soft, add the bag of pearl onions. Let them cook with the other onions and garlic for another few minutes. Add the chicken broth and let it come to a simmer.

While the broth is heating, shred the chicken breasts. Discard skin, fat and bones, keeping the breast meat of the chicken. Using forks, shred the chicken into bite sized chunks and set aside.

When the broth and onions are simmering, add the rinsed, drained white beans and the chicken chunks. Season the chili with the peppers, cumin, cinnamon and vinegar.

Cover the pot and let the chili simmer for about 30 minutes. Remove the pot, and cook over a low heat for another 20 minutes. At this point, season the chili further with kosher salt, or if desired, more crushed red pepper flakes.

Serve this chili hot with cilantro, shredded white cheddar, avocado and pico de gaillo if desired.

Calorie count for entire pot: 2,565; 10 servings at 256 calories a serving.

Heather Christo is an accomplished chef and entertaining expert. She graduated with honors from the acclaimed California Culinary Academy, Le Cordon Bleu, and completed a pastry chef apprenticeship at La Folie, one of San Francisco’s top French restaurants. Heather lives in Seattle, where she has her own catering company.