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Easy White Bean Chicken Chili can be made with or without dairy. Use your Crock Pot or Instant Pot. This recipe’s beans are soaked (easy overnight) for gentle digestion and nutrition.
White beans are the gentlest of all beans — the easiest to digest. You’ll love the tips below for soaking and cooking them, to make them more tender, digestible and nutritious.
CROCK POT for COOKING BEANS
The crock pot/slow cooker is not only a tool of convenience. It is this primarily, yes, and I am SO grateful for the freedom it adds to my kitchen. But when it comes to beans, it is also a tool of precision. Steady, low heat, it turns out, is helpful for creating soft, digestible beans.
The Weston A. Price Foundation has done extensive research on the proper way to soak and cook beans. I loved reading about the history of enigmatic legumes and how researchers and native peoples have cracked the nut, so to speak, on removing oligosaccharides from beans. They say about bean cooking temperature, “It is important to avoid boiling beans since this will coagulate their vegetable protein and result in permanently hard, unpalatable beans.”
They’ve dialed in every nuance to help us avoid beans that will give us gas or beans that won’t cook to their proper softness.
I’m going to share those tips here, so we all get cozy, perfect chili.
INSTANT POT for COOKING BEANS and CHILI
The Instant Pot (or other pressure cooker) also safely cooks beans, and quickly.
I love how easy it is to cook and create soft, digestible beans or chili in my IP. You’ll see the IP directions below in the recipe itself.
This recipe couldn’t be easier using it or the Crock Pot, so choose the one that suits you best.
TIPS WHEN COOKING BEANS for OPTIMUM DIGESTION
First, as a bit of a backdrop, here’s why beans are so hard to digest:
The harder beans, such as kidney beans, black beans or navy beans, require more careful treatment, as they contain certain oligosaccharides (large, complex sugars) that can completely confound digestion. Mammals do not produce the enzyme alpha-galactosidase in their digestive tracts, which is necessary to break down these sugars. When consumed, these oligosaccharides reach the lower intestine largely intact, and in the presence of anaerobic bacteria ferment and produce carbon dioxide and methane gases, as well as a good deal of discomfort… (source)
General guidelines for cooking beans:
- To the cooking water, or this chili’s bone broth, add a 6″ (or greater) piece of kombu seaweed. It will not add a fishy flavor but helps to alkalinize the water, breaking down oligosaccharides, adding minerals, elements and B vitamins, as well as adding a hearty umami (savory meat) flavor. Kombu can also be used during the beans’ cooking stage. If so, it will melt into the stew and become an added aid for digestion.
- To increase phytic acid degradation, (read more about phytic acid here), soaking beans overnight is a must. But soaking beans for 24 and up to even 72 hours is best. When there are no longer bubbles on the soaking water’s surface, the beans will be easiest to digest. 🙂
- Many sources, even reputable ones, suggest soaking beans in an acid medium overnight. While there are two to three varieties of beans that benefit from this, aciduated soaking water renders white beans hard. Use plain water for soaking overnight.
I hope you enjoy this classic White Bean Chicken Chili recipe. Overall, it has a super quick prep time and is no-fuss and yet has many layers of flavor and creaminess.
Easy White Bean Chicken Chili
- instant pot or crock pot
White Bean Preparation
- 3 cups white beans dried
- 8 cups water filtered
- 6 cups bone broth
- 3 lbs chicken raw, whole boneless thighs, pasture-raised or organic recommended
- 2 cups jack cheese or manchego cheese, grated, grass-fed preferred, reserve a small amount for garnish/topping
- 1 cup heavy cream or coconut cream for dairy-free
- 1 cup sour cream cultured cream/probiotic, optional for a dairy-free version
- 2 bunches green onions , chopped, reserve some for garnish/topping
- 2 to 3 cans green chilies mild, about 14 ounces total
- 2 Tablespoon avocado oil or bacon fat
- 4 cloves fresh garlic crushed or minced
- 2 tsp. cumin
- 2 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- Prepare the white beans as described below, (rinsing and soaking for 48-72 hours), before starting the main chili recipe. (For a dairy-free version, see Variations below.)
- Place white beans in a large bowl or pot. Add water to cover by a couple of inches. Soak 18-24 hours, then change water and repeat. (Add an optional piece of kombu if desired.) Soak beans as long as 3 to 4 days, total, changing the water and rinsing the beans and bowl each time. Soak the beans until no more bubbles have risen to the water's surface after a soaking.
- Place rinsed, soaked beans into empty Crock Pot or Instant Pot insert.
- Add the following: bone broth, chicken, green onions, green chilies, fat, garlic, spices and sea salt. For Crock Pot: Stir and set heat on low for 8 hours. For Instant Pot: Press "Stew" button, seal lid, shut steam valve, and allow pressure to release naturally after cooking time has elapsed.
- After cooking: Remove 4 cups of flavorful broth, beans, chilies and onions, taking care to leave chicken in pot. Allow this to cool slightly, about 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile use two forks to quickly break up/shred the chicken thighs into bite-size pieces. (They almost fall apart.)
- Puree slightly-cooled broth and beans for 50 seconds, until smooth. Add puree back into crock pot. (Always use caution when pureeing hot liquid.)
- When ready to serve, add cream and cheese. Stir and serve. Garnish bowls with sour cream, grated cheese and thinly sliced green onion, according to preference.
- Leave out all dairy and creamy options at the end. This makes a sublime soup, as is right when it's done cooking! A bit spicy and SOOOO cozy, full of comforting flavors, hearty and satisfying. The fat in the broth is nourishing; and the broth itself is delicious! Highly recommended as soup.
- Omit dairy creams and cheese. But add 1-2 cups coconut cream instead, to taste.
- If you can't have canned green chilies, due to the citric acid that most are canned with, use 3 whole green bell peppers, diced. Use 1 poblano pepper in place of 1 green bell pepper if you like your chili extra spicy. (Use caution when handling spicy peppers, their seeds and membranes. Don't touch your eyes.)
- Pureeing one portion of the beans and broth is optional. It makes the chili thicker and creamy, which I like; but as broth-y soup the dish is faster, easier and fabulous.