White Chicken Chili with Hatch Chiles and Black Beans

This immune-boosting chili combines comforting chicken soup vibes with the delicious flavors of the Southwest. While most chilis benefit from a long simmering time, this one comes together as quickly as it takes to make a pot of rice. That’s because it leans on pantry staples (that are also good for your brain), like shelf-stable almond milk, canned black beans, and diced chiles.

For a buttery, earthy flavor, with a moderate amount of heat, look for Hatch chiles from New Mexico. You’ll find them already roasted, seeded, and diced in the freezer section of the grocery store or in 4-ounce cans labeled “mild” or “medium.” Hatch chiles, and their cousins poblano and Anaheim, are an under-the-radar brain food. It turns out that the phytonutrient makes them taste spicy—capsaicin—also has potential in fending off Alzheimer’s. In this study of 338 healthy middle-aged and older Chinese participants, those with capsaicin-rich diets (primarily from eating chiles) had less amyloid protein detected in their blood and higher cognitive scores. Chiles are also a good choice for overall health, thanks to the copper and vitamins C, K, and B6 they provide.

White Chicken Chili with Hatch Chiles and Black Beans

Created by Annie Fenn, M.D.
Serves 4 (Makes 6 cups)


  • 1 tbsp avocado or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt, plus to taste
  • 2 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped, (about 1 tablespoon total)
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup Hatch chiles, roasted, seeded and diced (frozen and defrosted, or from two 4-ounce cans)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed (15-ounce can)
  • lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves and stems, roughly chopped
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • ¼ cup grated cheddar cheese (optional)
  • ¼ cup pickled red onions (optional)
  • 2 cups cooked brown, black, or white rice (optional)
  • Warmed corn tortillas, for serving


  • Warm the oil in a heavy pot (that has a tight-fitting lid) over medium heat. Add the onions and ¼ teaspoon salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to brown, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and add the garlic. Cook for another minute, or until fragrant, being careful not to let it burn.
  • Add the almond milk, chiles, cumin, oregano, black beans, and another ½ teaspoon of the salt to the pot. Bring to a low simmer, then reduce the heat until gently bubbling.
  • Sprinkle both sides of the chicken breasts with ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Place the chicken breasts gently into the liquid, cover the pot, and cook until you can easily pull the chicken apart with two forks, about 12 minutes.
  • Transfer the chicken to a bowl and set it aside until cool enough to handle, then shred it using two forks. Add the chicken and any juices back into the chili. Simmer until the chili is gently bubbling again. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • To serve, divide evenly between 4 bowls and top with the cilantro, avocado, pickled onions and cheese (if using) with the tortillas on the side. If you’re serving with rice, place in the bowls before topping with chili.

The soup will keep in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge or 3 months in the freezer.