The only prize I’ve ever won in a cooking competition was a rubber chicken. Now that’s funny. Johnny Carson always kept a rubber chicken behind his desk just in case. Because they’re funny.
I was awarded the prize for my interpretation of white chicken chili. I’ve rarely met a chicken chili that I didn’t like. Two things that I tried to improve upon for the contest were the tenderness of the chicken and the pale color of the base due to the use of white beans. Although navy beans, great northern beans and their kin are personal favorites of mine, the bland color of their broth reminds me of one of those crayons in the box of 64 that never need sharpening. None of the cool kids use them for the fun pictures.
In order to make my chili more colorful, I scoured through cookbooks and found a recipe for enchilada sauce that lended itself well to vibrant and tasty Mexican ingredients — and then I made it soup. This is a recipe I am so proud of because it has been requested for various gatherings and by many special friends. I’m so very proud to share it. I’ve also had a quite a few folks ask for a reprint because they lost the original. Now try not to make rubbery chicken, and I promise to try and not overestimate my funniness. Cheers!
Chimichanga Chicken Chili
2 cups shredded white chicken
16 oz. container sour cream
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup diced onion
2 small cans diced green chiles
1/3 stick butter
1 32 oz. carton chicken stock
1 pint half and half
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can mexicorn, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel Mexican tomatoes with lime and cilantro
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic
1 pinch cayenne
1 pinch cumin
1 package flour tortillas cut into small strips
Thoroughly stir flour into sour cream and set aside. Melt butter in a large stockpot and add onions, stirring until they soften. Add chiles and cook over low heat a minute or two and then season with a pinch of cumin and the red pepper flakes (I usually add a clove of minced garlic also). Dump sour cream mixture in all at once and increase heat to medium, stirring with wire whisk until bubbly. Gradually add chicken stock, stirring constantly with whisk until you get the consistency you want. Add salt, pepper and cayenne (I vary the heat depending on the eaters!) and continue cooking over low heat for five to 10 minutes or until it looks like soup).
Add black beans, corn and tomatoes. Stir and add chicken and half the Monterey Jack cheese. Stir and let simmer on low, stirring occasionally. Add half and half or extra broth until it looks like you want — can be a soup or a chili.
Heat cooking oil to medium and add tortilla strips (may take about three to four batches). Cook until light golden brown and drain on paper towels.
Just prior to serving, stir cilantro into soup. Serve with crispy tortilla strips and extra shredded cheese.
This sour cream base is also very good for potato soup, corn chowder or almost anything that calls for a cream soup. The color is lovely, and I have even used a thicker version as an enchilada sauce. Enjoy!
Sharon Little is a community contributor for the Kingsport Times News.