White Bean Chili with Chicken and Collard Greens

Paula Deen's White Bean Chili with Collard Greens2Dead southwesterners everywhere are rolling over in their graves because Paula Deen has added collard greens to their chili. Yes, I’ve done it again, I’ve gone to Paula Deen for another recipe. And you know what? It is the best white bean chili I have ever had. EVER. This is a very bold statment for me to make, especially since I don’t love collard greens as much as other greens. I’m not a huge fan of the traditional preparation of collard greens–which is to cook them to death with some ham hock. But this…THIS…I could eat once a week. It was absolutely delicious. And I think it could easily be made vegetarian–just add some more beans, take away the chicken, and replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock. And would you believe this Paula Deen recipe does not have even a teaspoon of butter? No, y’all, it does not. 


Collard Greens in Salad Spinner

It has been chilly and rainy in Birmingham for the past, hmmmm…month? This soup was perfect for a chilly, rainy night, and I’m actually going to make it again as soon as Glenn brings home more collards. I decided to alter Paula’s recipe just a smidge and, instead of chopping the chicken up beforehand, I let it simmer longer in the broth whole and allowed it to break up itself. I’m sure if you don’t have time to spare, you could chop it up first. But letting it simmer for a whole hour really does make the chicken super tender and allows the flavors to marry longer. Aw, I love it when flavors marry, don’t you? It’s sweet.

Collards cooking

Another thing to mention about this dish: an acquaintance of Glenn’s brought us some fresh New Mexico green chilies she picked up while she was out there visiting (these are the benefits of being a farmer–people trade you great stuff for your produce). Though Glenn and I use green chilies in a lot of cooking (and we must, of course, use the canned variety), the flavor of fresh chilies is superior (the canned variety can taste slightly “tinny”), and the ones we used for this recipe were very very hot.




Chicken, Collards and Green Chilies

Though I didn’t have any time to make cornbread with this, I highly recommend doing so. I would have loved to dip some cornbread in this chili to sop it up and take off some of the heat. If you don’t like your chili too hot, just don’t add as many crushed red pepper flakes and use mild green chilies instead of hot.

The next day, instead of eating this as regular soup, I broke out the tortilla chips, which we used to scoop up the leftovers. Overnight, the soup became much drier than it was first day I made it, so it was totally scoopable. Delicious!

If you have never tried collard greens before, or if you’re like me and think of them only boiled down to a pulp with ham hock, please please please try this recipe. Paula Deen, I curtsy to your goodness.



Paula Deen's White Bean Chili with Collard Greens3









Adapted (ever so slightly) from Paula Deen’s White-Bean Chili 

Makes 4 good-sized bowls (or one bowl for me and three for Glenn)

2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

3/4 cup diced onion (I used a Vadalia, just to be extra southern-like)

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (2 halves, that is, about 3/4 of a pound), seasoned with sea salt and fresh black pepper

1  Tablespoon ground cumin

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper (I did not have any white pepper on hand, so I substituted black pepper, but I’m leaving this as Paula Deen originally intended, because I’ll bet it’s tasty)

Pinch of red pepper flakes (oops, I added a couple pinches and, yes, it was dang hot)

Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper

1 pound collard greens, stemmed and roughly chopped (about 5 cups)

1 1/2 cups chopped green chilies. I happened to have fresh/frozen ones on hand that a friend of Glenn’s brought to him from New Mexico. Use ’em if you got ’em. Otherwise, canned would be fine.

1 quart low-sodium chicken broth

2 15-oz cans navy beans, undrained

Optional garnishes: 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, light sour cream, chopped tomatoes, lime wedges


In a dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat, add the garlic and onion. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until slightly softened. Add the chicken, cumin, oregano, white pepper, and red pepper flakes. Season with salt and 1-2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper. Cook until the chicken is slightly browned on both sides, 3-4 minutes.

Add the collard greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until they are slightly wilted, about 5 minutes.

Add the chilies and chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat to medium low, cook, stirring occasionally for approximately 1 hour. As soon as the chicken was cooked through (after about 15 minutes), I helped it along by breaking it up a little bit in the pot. After a while, it will begin to get very tender. If I had time, I probably would have let it simmer for another 1/2 hour to get it even more tender. Stir in the beans in the last 10 minutes of cooking. Garnish and serve.


  1. retroho said,

    October 16, 2009 at 7:08 am

    check out my food blog and tell me what you think:


  2. Stephanie Nelson said,

    October 16, 2009 at 8:03 am

    I’m heading to the store (right after Layla’s doctor appointment) to get the fixin’s for this! It sounds so yummy on a cold and dreary day like today! Thanks Kelsey!!!

    • KJ said,

      October 16, 2009 at 8:45 am

      You bet! Tell me how it comes out.

  3. Stephanie Nelson said,

    October 16, 2009 at 11:57 am

    The concoction is simmering as I write this. Also, as I write this I am blowing little particles of cumin and picking bits of greens from the keyboard of my computer. So I’m a messy cook.
    Ok, so when I got to Walmart to get my supplies I realized I had lost my shopping list. I did pretty good going from memory… I only forgot the oregano, but I found some at home! Whew. I also couldn’t remember if it was navy beans or great northern… I got both and figured I’d have some beans for some other dish!
    Also, did you know that all the peppers (aside from the bell pepper type) are green (at least at Walmart)?! I didn’t know which variety to get! I knew jalapeno was out of the question… but there was no chart detailing the hotness of the other varieties, so I went with canned.
    Aside from all that, it smells delicious in the house right now! I can’t wait until it’s ready. I’m going to assume that I can let this simmer for a while. I figure I will allow everything to marry for a good long time. (That can’t be bad, right?)
    I’ll update you after we eat! =)

    • KJ said,

      October 16, 2009 at 12:28 pm

      Steph, First of all, I’m so excited you got right on this! You’re right. Not jalapeno…but the canned green chilies–as in the kind that are roasted and peeled. If you got the canned, unless it says “HOT” on the front, you’re probably fine. Also, yes, I think it’s good to let it simmer for a while, but just remember the longer you simmer it, the more the collards will break down. I felt 1 hour was just about perfect, but even taking it another 1/2 hour should be fine (collards are tough little guys). If you want to, you could turn off the heat for a while, then turn it back on right before you eat. Just make sure you cover it and don’t leave it out toooo long. Tell me how it comes out!

      • Stephanie Nelson said,

        October 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm

        Ok, I couldn’t wait for Joe and Luke to get home… I had to taste it. YUMMY! I’m using considerable restraint to actually wait to eat a big ol’ bowl of it! =) Thank you for this yumalicious recipe!

      • KJ said,

        October 16, 2009 at 2:35 pm

        You rock. And I’m jealous that you made cornbread with it. I should have done that. I’m making this again next week. 🙂

  4. Leslie Anne said,

    October 16, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    Okay, I received an email today from American Spoon Foods, featuring their Cherry Peach Pumpkin Chili. Well, that sounded intriguing to me, but I can’t afford the set of 2 jars of Cherry Peach Salsa plus the jar of Pumpkin Chipotle Roasting Sauce that it requires ($26.95) so I googled “Cherry Peach Pumpkin Chili recipe”. I ended up on a wordpress option, which had lots of options for chili, but I stopped on the link to your blog because it mentioned white bean chili with chicken – and one of the tags was ‘green chiles’ – a favorite of mine.

    I’ve since spent a good part of the evening checking out the rest of your blog and recipes and I’ve gotta say, I’m loving it! I love the way you write as if you were speaking, and you have a story to go with your recipes. Just wanted to let you know how much I’m enjoying your blog!

    • KJ said,

      October 17, 2009 at 9:01 am

      Thank you for the nice compliment Leslie! I hope you keep reading. You’re right, $26.95 seems like way too much to spend on chili!

  5. Stephanie Nelson said,

    October 17, 2009 at 8:00 am

    Officially, that was the yummiest chili… EVER! I was worried that my husband would not like that I changed up the way I normally make chili, but he LOVED it! Plus, this was so easy to make… I’m looking forward to your next recipe. No pressure.

    • KJ said,

      October 17, 2009 at 9:02 am

      Steph, I love regular tomato based chili, too, of course. Sometimes I wouldn’t want to change it up. But once in a while, you need a change. Plus, it is a good way to get your greens. Collard greens are so high in nutrients. I’m so glad it worked out!

  6. Melinda Secrist said,

    October 22, 2009 at 6:51 pm

    I went out on a limb thinking I was going to like this recipe and doubled the batch. Thank God I did. It is wonderful!
    I had enough of all the ingredients to double the recipe except for the beans. I could only find Great Northern beans at both grocery stores closest to me so thought they would do. When I realized that I needed 2 more cans I ran to the store and found dried navy beans. I thought I would do both not realizing the time it takes to soak the beans. So, the main part of the chili is complete and I will add the navy beans tomorrow after their overnight soaking.
    Our good friend Cindy reminded me about a meeting at school tonight, so my chili simmered for approx. 2 hours. It is perfect. My greens held up good because I did a large rough, rough chop do to my lack of time! I of course could not wait until tomorrow to taste this so I have had 3 small bowls! I know it will be even better tomorrow once the rest of the beans are added.
    So looking forward to eating this all weekend. Oh, no cornbread mix in the house so I am making 2 loaves of beer bread which I think will go well with this. My family is making apple butter soon and I may make this to share with them. I know they will love it as well.
    Thanks to you and to Paula Deen for this great recipe, it is definitely a keeper in my house!
    By the way, the house smells wonderful while this is simmering!

    • KJ said,

      October 22, 2009 at 8:10 pm

      Melinda, I am so happy you enjoyed this (or are going to enjoy it, rather) 🙂 This is definitely one that I will make many times. Yeah, dried beans can take a long time to soften up, but over night should do it. I hope it works out! Thanks for letting me know about it. I love to hear about people’s adventures with food!

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