Tuesday, March 3, 2009

White Chicken Chili (South Beach Style)

I. Love. Food. I envy my husband and my father-in-law who seem to be able to inhale just about any dish they choose and yet seem to look thinner after dinner is over! What's their secret?!?

For most of us "normal" people out there, this is just not the case. And for those of us who love to cook - not just cook - but really spend hours in the kitchen with challenging mouth watering recipes, full of butter, cream, and carbs... - Our inability to lose weight by simply eating more of these tasty fat laden ingredients is a problem!

To be honest, I don't trust skinny chefs anyway. I like watching the Food Network and drooling over the dishes Ina Garten creates on her show Barefoot Contessa. Even Rachael Ray is a little curvy. Look at Mario Batali! Emeril! BAM! - There's a chef I can trust!

Over the years I've played with the South Beach Diet. And for the critics out there, no - it is not a low-carb diet. The diet relies on nutrient dense food, high in fiber and low in fat. And to be honest, every time I've dabbled on the diet, I've lost weight. Not only that, but I just feel better! I sleep better. I have energy.

But slowly, as I would see the pounds come off, I would feel the need to celebrate my new found weight loss! Like the bread basket at a restaurant - yep - the WHOLE bread basket (and butter, because that's the best part). Or mounds of hand-rolled pasta. Mounds of ANY pasta. Brownies. Custard. Movie Theatre Popcorn. Real cream in my coffee. Cupcakes.

I mean, I deserved these treats, you know? I had worked so hard eating lean meats, fruits full of fiber, lots of vegetables. Plus, I hit the gym 4-5 times a week! Give a girl a cupcake!

And after awhile, all that progress was undone, there I was standing in my kitchen, chubbier, tears streaming down my cheeks, crying "WHY???? WHY????"

Well, duh...

Over the course of my battle with the diet - I did find one super star recipe. One that is appropriate for all phases of the South Beach Diet. (There are three phases. Phase one is the strictest and lasts for a couple of weeks, followed by a less stringent phases two which lasts until the weight loss goal has been met. Finally, Phase three is the maintenance phase.)

Here's my adaption from a South Beach Diet Recipe: White Chipotle-Chicken Chili

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (Or 3 Shallots)
4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves (1 3/4 pounds), cut into 1" chunks
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoons crushed red pepper
Salt and black pepper
3 (14.5-ounce) cans white kidney or cannellini beans*, drained (save 1/2 cup draining liquid) and rinsed
1-2 cans butter beans, drained
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 teaspoon canned chipotle chil**, seeded and minced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, ribs removed, finely diced.
1/2 cup nonfat half-and-half
Garnishes: Shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Warm oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add onion and jalapeno; cook 4 minutes, stirring. Push onions and peppers to one side; add chicken to skillet and sprinkle with chili powder, cumin, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper. Cook 5 minutes, stirring.

Increase heat to medium-high. Add 2 cans of white kidney beans and 1-2 cans of butter beans and draining liquid, 1 1/4 cups broth, and chipotle; bring to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.

Meanwhile, combine remaining 1 can of beans and 3/4 cup broth in bowl of food processor. Puree until smooth, then add to soup in pot, along with half-and-half. Simmer a few minutes, stirring, until ingredients are warmed through and flavors incorporate. Taste to check for seasonings. It will probably need at least another pinch of salt. Serve hot; garnish with cheese and cilantro.

*If you are unable to find white kidney beans (AKA cannellini beans), substitute Navy Beans or Great Northern Beans or a combination of the two. (I prefer the draining liquid for Navy Beans over Great Northern.)

**Chipotle in Adobo can be found in many markets now. However, not in small town Wahoo. When I can't get a can of this spicy and smokey pepper - I add an extra jalapeno or two and a tablespoon or two of a smokey salsa.

My best advice with this recipe is to measure the liquid ingredients. I never measure! But everytime I've eyeballed the wet ingredients, the soup wasn't the right consistancy.

Also, if you like it more spicy, leave the seeds and ribs of the pepper and increase the crushed red pepper.

Just remember - all that spicy food is said to increase your metabolism!



  1. Um. Have you considered asking the Wahoo paper to let you be a "guest columnist"? Your notes are so light hearted and fun... I bet they could carry something like that - you could feature a recipe every week! I just can relate so well to everything that you say - from the "why don't the men around me pack on pounds" to the "let's celebrate diet success with food!"!!!

  2. Hi Sheila!
    Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging. I'm really looking forward to seeing what you have to say. Keep it up!

    This recipe looks wonderful. Yum!

  3. Thanks Sue! (I'm so honored you took the time to read my little blog!)

    I just got a puppy a month ago, so my motivation for blogging was put on hold... But I started a new one today!

    Thanks again!

  4. We better see pictures of the pup...

  5. Hi Sheila ~ I came here through Sue's FN musings blog. Thought I'd stop in. Good for you for starting your own blog. The White Chicken Chili sounds awesome - i'm going to give it a try. In my book anything that has cannelli beans AND butter beans has got to be amazing. Good luck with your blog!

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