White chili is a delicious alternative to traditional tomato-based versions. This sweet and spicy white chili gets its flavor and kick from Trader Joe’s well-known and loved Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa.

To thicken this chili, I added quinoa, which is a great way to add body to any soup, chili, or stew.  The quinoa will absorb most of the liquid and soften, becoming a flavorful component that binds it all together.  Quinoa is also a healthy addition to any dish since it’s packed with protein and high in magnesium, calcium, and iron. 

Trader Joe's Corn and Chili Salsa

You may wonder why quinoa cooking instructions always recommend rinsing quinoa.  Quinoa seeds naturally have a soapy coating that can be bitter.  Processing usually removes this coating, but it varies from brand to brand, so it’s a good idea to give quinoa a quick rinse before using.  If the water becomes slightly sudsy, then you know that the coating was there. 

Chicken and beans round out this white chili.  For a vegetarian version, use a vegetarian broth and substitute two packages of Trader Joe’s Chickenless Strips. Alternatively, you can simply leave out the chicken and add extra veggies or increase the quinoa.

The chili has a little bit of a kick from the salsa, but the heat is balanced out with some sweetness.  I thought it was slightly spicy for the kids, so for them I mellowed it out by serving with some plain brown rice and a dollop of greek yogurt.  They happily ate it up. 

White Lightning Chili


  • 1 1-lb container of Just Chicken (or 4 cups of cooked and shredded chicken) cut into bite size chunks
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can White Kidney Beans (Cannellini Beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 15-oz can Pinto Beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 13.75-oz jar Corn and Chile Salsa
  • Optional: Shredded cheese for garnish


  1. Pour the broth into a medium or large pot.  Add the quinoa (make sure quinoa is rinsed and drained).  Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients (making sure beans are rinsed and drained) and return to a boil.  Lower heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed.
  3. Serve in bowls, topping with shredded cheese.

Serves 8

Note:  For leftovers, add a little extra liquid, either broth or water, when reheating.