A one-pot meal is one of the earliest, most primitive ways of cooking that to this day touches the essential core of what a home-cooked meal should be: achievable, nourishing and compelling enough to make people want to gather around and eat together.
It is my absolute favorite way to cook: low on fussy technique and big on flavor, with lots of wiggle room for creative variations. Not to mention that most one-pot meals are easily prepared in larger quantities to feed a crowd, to make ahead and freeze, or to refrigerate for several days, during which time their flavor only improves.
For just those reasons, my soup pot and Dutch oven see a lot of action in the cooler months when, nearly weekly, they contain some kind of chili. It is my ultimate one-pot wonder and weeknight dinner, but also ideal for casual weekend entertaining where I keep a big pot of it simmering on the stove with an array of toppings set out for guests to help themselves. It’s a flavorful way to enjoy some of the most healthful ingredients on the planet – vegetables and beans – so mine is always chock-full of those.
Variations of chili are endless, and I am always experimenting. This white-bean version has become a family favorite. It has the familiar chili taste you yearn for, but in an unpredictable, tomatoless way. It’s all white and green, with plump chunks of chicken, hearty white beans and a generous helping of flavorful, yet mostly mild, peppers simmered with aromatic spices. A finishing punch of lime, a dollop of Greek yogurt (a substitute for the typical sour cream) and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro give just the right cool contrast to top off this comforting bowl of goodness.
White Bean Chicken Chili
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, trimmed of excess fat, then cut into ½-inch chunks
1 medium onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
3 medium poblano peppers, seeded, white ribs removed, and finely diced
1 medium jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground coriander
2 15.5-ounce cans no-salt-added white beans (such as cannel lini or Great North- ern), drained and rinsed
3 cups no-salt-added chicken broth
½ teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Green pepper hot sauce, such as Tabasco Green
¼ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Heat ½ tablespoon of the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add half of the chicken and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is lightly browned but not quite cooked through. Transfer to a plate. Add another ½ tablespoon of oil to the pot and repeat with the remaining chicken, adding the cooked chicken to the plate.
Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pot; reduce the heat to medium, then add the onion, celery and the poblano and jalapeno peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, oregano and coriander; cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Add the white beans, broth and salt; bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Return the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot; cook until the chicken is just done throughout, 5 minutes.
Stir in the lime juice, then add hot sauce to taste, depending on the heat of the poblanos and jalapenos used, which can vary widely. Taste, and season with salt, if needed. Top each portion with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro.
Makes 4 servings (8 cups).
Make ahead: The chili can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days or frozen for up to 3 months.
Per serving: 420 calories, 40 g protein, 40 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 65 mg cholesterol, 510 mg sodium, 11 g dietary fiber, 7 g sugar.