Spokane White Chicken Chili (with vegetarian variation)

Good White Chicken Chili doesn’t have to take forever! Make yourself a surprisingly warm and comforting pot in under an hour using leftover rotisserie chicken, frozen peppers, and canned goods.

Spokane White Chicken Chili

My Spokane host had a freezer full of individually wrapped chicken breasts, a bag of frozen mixed peppers, and a nice spice cabinet. She also used to live in Texas, so she was totally down with a nice pot of white chicken chili. Since Spokane was my last western stop before the Pacific Northwest I’m also including a vegan variation for folks who want all the flavor and heartiness without the meaty bits.


  • 1 ½ tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp cumin powder
  • ½ tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup frozen diced mixed bell peppers (or 1-2 red and yellow bell peppers)
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and veined (optional)
  • 2 chicken breasts (or meat picked from ½ of a rotisserie chicken) or 1 box extra firm tofu, drained
  • 4 cups chicken or veggie broth (try the garlic flavored ones!)
  • 2 cans white navy beans, undrained
  • 1 can corn, undrained
  • 1 large can green chilies


  • To get started, mix all the spices together and set them aside.
  • If you’re not saving time by ripping meat off a store bought rotisserie chicken, let’s start by cooking the raw stuff. Pat the chicken breasts dry and rub them down with salt and pepper. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil to a medium soup pot. Get it up to medium high heat and cook the chicken on each side for 5-7 minutes, or until it’s no longer pink in the middle. No one likes a side of salmonella with their soup.
  • Sloppily cut the chicken into cubes. You can also rip at it with a pair of forks if you’re feeling like Wolverine. As long as it goes from two whole, recognizable pieces to a mess of tiny cooked parts, you’re good. If you’re using the vegan variation, use this time to drain your extra firm tofu and cut it into roughly 2 inch cubes.
  • Add the other tbsp of olive oil to the pot and dump in the chopped onions. Give it a hearty stir and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the onions starts to wilt but aren’t yet brown. Add in the crushed garlic,  bell pepper bits, and (optional) jalapeno. (If you want your chili a little hotter then leave in a couple of the jalapeno seeds.)
  • If you didn’t thaw the frozen bell peppers in advance you’ll have a big mess of steam for a couple of minutes. Just keep stirring. It’ll be fine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, until the peppers, jalapeno, and garlic are slightly softened.
  • Dump in all the spices and mix thoroughly until the vegetables are completely coated. Keep cooking the spices for another 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Cooking the spices enhances the flavor.
  • You don’t want all that spicy stuff to stick to the bottom of the pan, so deglaze it by pouring in the entire box of broth. (My host had some garlic flavored broth, which added a nice flavor boost. Don’t be afraid to try the extra flavored broths or beans at the grocery!)
  • Give it a good stir until the seasonings are thoroughly mixed into the liquid. Now open all the remaining cans and dump them in, undrained. White navy beans, corn, & green chilies go straight into the bowl. Give it another hearty stir until everything is well mixed.
  • Remember that protein you messed with earlier? It’s time to decide whether you want to add chicken or tofu. If you’re making the meaty version then add the chicken now and let the pot simmer, uncovered, on medium for another 45 minutes while all the flavors mingle. Stir it every 10-15 minutes so nothing sticks to the bottom. The soup should reduce by about 15-20% in volume. This thickens it up and makes each spoonful even heartier.
  • If you’re making the tofu variation, simmer and reduce the soup for 45 minutes without adding anything else. Once the soup is completely finished and thickened, gently fold the tofu cubes into the hot soup so the cubes don’t break apart too much.
  • Serve either version with a couple big wedges of cornbread. If you’d like, you can also top your bowl with a quarter cup of your favorite shredded cheese while the soup is still hot enough for the cheese to melt right in.