Guest Post – White Chicken Chili by Heidi Cullinan

Cullinan Blog Tour Banner
BP Note: Those of you who follow me on twitter might have noticed that in addition to talking bout books I also mention food, a lot. I also have some fool allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances so I am also on the look out for recipes I can customize or that are already customized to the extent that I can just make and enjoy them. As a result when the list of options for the type of guest post came out for Heidi Cullinan’s Let it Snow blog tour I leaped on the opportunity to get an original recipe. Not only does this recipe remind me of a particular scene in Let it Snow, which I will review later today, but I also have an answer to my question of what to eat outside of Thanksgiving this week. Thanks Heidi for providing this great recipe and joining us today. Hope you guys enjoy this as much as I am.

White Chicken Chili by Heidi Cullinan

White Chicken Chili with GF Vegan Bread
The bread is Schar Cibatta, Gluten-Free, Vegan that Heidi discovered when a reader brought some for her at GRL.

In Let It Snow, Frankie can’t handle red meat, especially beef. It makes him sick to his stomach, and when he finds out his three bears plan to only eat red meat during the blizzard, it’s a tense moment…until Marcus makes a white chicken chili and won’t let anyone else eat it but Frankie.

I wanted to make the chili for the blog tour, but there’s one big problem: I have a host of food issues myself, and while I do occasionally eat meat, I’m mostly vegan. Ironically enough, when I do eat meat, the one kind I cannot tolerate is chicken. As a result, I have designed a recipe that at its base is vegan and gluten free but can be spun out several different ways. It can be made with chicken, with pork, with fake chicken, or with tofu.

A few notes…

This would be a great recipe to make if you were not gluten free or vegan but wanted to make something for a friend—though if that’s who you are, read my extra notes below carefully, because there are things you must bear in mind. If you are vegan or GF, I assume you already know which forks in the road to take.

If you’re just curious, though, this first note is for you: I would recommend you use the vegan broth and ingredients because they’re actually kind of awesome. I personally find vegan broth more flavorful and interesting to the palate than chicken broth.

General Notes on Ingredients You Might Find Head-Scratchy

No-Chicken Broth: I like the Imagine company’s broth, and if you were going to use chicken despite my above suggestion, I’d strongly encourage this brand. This broth, the no-chicken, is certified vegan and gluten free—and kosher, and organic. It’s a tasty broth designed to act like chicken broth without actually being marinated chicken juice.

Liquid Smoke: This ingredient is lovely in any dish, but especially if you’re using the vegan version, don’t hold back. To my knowledge all brands should be vegan and GF, but if you’re worried look it up in the Internet. The net always knows.

Gluten-Free Tamari or Soy Sauce, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, or (NON-GF ONLY!!!) Dr. Wizard’s Worcestershire: If you’re cooking for someone with celiac or gluten sensitivity, you’ll need to use specified gluten free tamari or soy sauce, and if you use Dr. Wizard’s, it MUST be the GF version. If you’re cooking for a vegan, you can’t use regular Worcestershire because it has anchovies. I think standard Worcestershire is okay for GF, but make sure you check before you use it. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos is a good less-sodium substitute and should be okay for vegans and GF alike.

Herbamare: Herbamare is basically salt on crack. It’s lovely and wonderful and when you have it around and something calls for salt, you usually use it because why would you not?

Roasted Red Pepper: You could use a red pepper and sauté it with the rest of the veg, but the roasted red peppers that come in a jar are sure nice, and that’s what I used.

Daiya shredded pepperjack: This is my favorite fake cheese for soups, as it actually sort of melts. If you are not vegan or dairy free, you will find fake cheese…different at best. If you can get ahold of Teese cheese, from all I understand it is far superior. The thing you must check if cooking for a vegan or someone with a dairy allergy: if you see casein in the ingredients, the cheese is not vegan or dairy free. I’m allergic to casein, and vegans are offended by it. Some cheese alternatives add casein…which I’m all, why, because fake cheese is only something you’d do if you have no choice. So who is choosing this except people who can’t have casein?

Vegan sour cream: There are a lot of brands out there, but make sure it says vegan on it, and again, no casein. It actually tastes exactly the same as regular. I adore it. Most are GF, but if you’re serving for GF, always double check.

Gluten Free tortilla chips: Most corn chips are technically GF, but read the label and try to find something saying it’s certified if you’re cooking for a Celiac or someone with gluten sensitivity. If the label says “may contain wheat” or “manufactured on the same equipment as wheat” you need to stay away.

And speaking of gluten free cooking: if you’re cooking for a GF friend or family member, you must clean your kitchen well before you begin. If you use a cast iron pan for gluten, use a different pan this time. Clean all your pants well before cooking in them. Keep all bread and loose gluten products away from the cooking and food area, and wash your hands after any contact with gluten.

To give you an idea of how easy it is to accidentally make a GF person sick: when I made this recipe for this blog post, I poisoned myself, because I forgot to look up Dr. Wizard. I started to get sore yesterday afternoon (I sampled it at lunch), had a sore neck and nerve twitches by the evening, and woke up with my lip swelled up, my body feeling like I’d been thrown down the stairs. I’m foggy and my feet are numb. In the entire crock pot of soup there was 2 tsp max of Dr. Wizard’s, which could not have even half of that be wheat—and this is my reaction. So it’s very important to read your ingredients.

My husband Dan, daughter Anna, and friend Jess eating the soup. You’ll notice the segregated table: Dan & Anna had the non-GF loaf of bread at the other end, and their polluted butter. Jess and I had the Schar rolls and our GF only butter on the other end. Segregation totally happens at my table.

With no further ado…here is the actual recipe.

Vegan Gluten Free White “Chicken” Chili

adapted from Mayo Clinic recipe

10-16 ounces chicken*, chicken alternative strips**, shredded pork*** or pressed, cubed tofu****
3-4 cups cooked white beans (cannellini, great northern)
5-6 cups low-sodium no-chicken broth or veg broth
2-4 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tsp liquid smoke
2 tsp soy sauce/tamari/liquid aminos (or Dr Wizard Worcestershire, but see above)
2 bay leaves (fish them out when you serve—don’t eat them)
1 tsp Herbamare (or salt of choice)
1 tsp black pepper
3/4 roasted red pepper, chopped
3/4 C chopped carrot
3/4 C chopped celery
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced

6 tablespoons Daiya shredded pepperjack cheese
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Vegan sour cream
GF corn tortilla chips


*Chicken prep: Roast a chicken or pan-fry 10 oz chicken breast. If roasting a chicken: wait until chicken cools, pull apart desired amount of meat, set aside. If using chicken breast: cool, dice, set aside. Could also used canned meat or grocery store roasted chicken (if using store chicken, verify gluten free).

**Chicken alternative strips prep: Prepare according to package directions, set aside.
Depending on brand, these might not be gluten free or vegan. Read labels.

***Shredded pork prep: Slow-cook pork loin roast overnight in crock pot or for 3-4 hours in low oven. Bake with the following: 1 c white wine (or broth, or water), 2 stalks celery, 1/4 c onion. Cool 20-40 minutes. Shred with fork or cut with knife, about 2 cups (or to desired amount). Set aside.

****Tofu prep: Press the tofu with a press or beneath a weighted plate for 20-45 minutes to drain out the water. Cut into cubes and fry in a bit of high smoke point oil (Grapeseed, Canola, Coconut) with a bit of apple cider vinegar (2 tsp, more to taste), paprika, and chili powder (1/2 tsp each, or 1/2 tsp of one) Stir fry until tofu is golden brown. Remove from pan and set aside.

In a large soup pot, add your protein choice, beans, broth, and spices, including bay leaves. Cover and simmer over medium heat. Chop up roasted red pepper; add to soup.

Sauté onions, carrots, and celery in 1 TBSP grapeseed oil, 3 TBSP water, or use other high smoke point oil. When they begin to get soft, add garlic. Stir constantly for 1-2 minutes. Add vegetables to broth.

Simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or begin this whole nonsense in the crock pot and simmer for 5-9 hours.

Ladle into warmed bowls. Sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon cheese and 1 teaspoon cilantro and scoop of sour cream. Serve with chips on the side or on top.

Chili Bowl Creation
This is my bowl of toppings before I added the chili. So I had some chili with my toppings. (To be fair in this pic I put a piece of ripped up Schar white bread–gf, vegan–so it’s exta full.)

Production Notes:

I chose to make this with pork for the blog tour, but I would love to make it sometime with tofu. Tempeh could be good too, which you’d prepare the same as tofu but you don’t have to press it—again, if cooking for GF make sure it’s clear. (I’m not a fake chicken fan so I’ll probably never use that option.) Basically you’re after an alteration of texture and something to soak up the flavor.

Here are some tweaks I may try in the future:

• saute tofu/tempeh/fake chicken in white wine, 1/4-1/2 cup minimum
• consider adding 1/2 c wine directly to the broth
• add more of any/all spices, particularly chili, liquid smoke, GF soy/tamari/aminos
• add some chopped cilantro directly to the broth during the cooking process, maybe a 1/4 c
• vegan boullion

The thing is, this chili is going to be one that tastes better the longer you let it sit there. Honestly the Mayo original, cooked fast and calling for canned chicken sounds so tasteless I don’t even know how to talk about it. Play around. I’m a firm believer in chili being an expression of one’s personality. Make this yours.

Aside from making myself sick, this turned out really well, and I’ll be making it again. I made it for my friend Jess, who unfortunately I poisoned as well, though so far she’s okay as she only had one bowl. Even my picky daughter liked it.

If you try this yourself, let me know how it goes! Whatever you do, don’t skip the fresh cilantro. It’s the best part.


Let it Snow cover image

The weather outside is frightful, but this Minnesota Northwoods cabin is getting pretty hot.

Stylist Frankie Blackburn never meant to get lost in Logan, Minnesota, but his malfunctioning GPS felt otherwise, and a record-breaking snowfall ensures he won’t be heading back to Minneapolis anytime soon. Being rescued by three sexy lumberjacks is fine as a fantasy, but in reality the biggest of the bears is awfully cranky and seems ready to gobble Frankie right up.

Marcus Gardner wasn’t always a lumberjack—once a high-powered Minneapolis lawyer, he’s come home to Logan to lick his wounds, not play with a sassy city twink who might as well have stepped directly out of his past. But as the northwinds blow and guards come down, Frankie and Marcus find they have a lot more in common than they don’t. Could the man who won’t live in the country and the man who won’t go back to the city truly find a home together? Because the longer it snows, the deeper they fall in love, and all they want for Christmas is each other.

Warning: Contains power outages, excessive snowfall, and incredibly sexy bears

Buy/Book Links:


Heidi Cullinan has always loved a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. She enjoys writing across many genres but loves above all to write happy, romantic endings for LGBT characters because there just aren’t enough of those stories out there. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, knitting, listening to music, and watching television with her husband and ten-year-old daughter. Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and is proud to be from the first midwestern state with full marriage equality. Find out more about Heidi, including her social networks, at her website.

4 thoughts on “Guest Post – White Chicken Chili by Heidi Cullinan”

  1. The reason for cheeses with casein is that some people are lactose intolerant, but don’t object to dairy. Apparently casein isn’t an issue, and the cheeses with and without are different. So they’re fine for people who might also drink lactose-free (dairy) milk. It’s only recently that they’ve (the companies trying to supply the market) have gone all out on an increasing selection of gluten-free and dairy-free items. And it’s easier to find items that are vegan, too.

    I was a bit shocked when I realized that Daiya is grain-based. Not what I expected. But other cheeses are often soy-based, and a lot of people don’t like that.

    I’m pretty sure that Worcestshire sauce is not considered gluten free (unless the brand explicitly says so). Maybe any gluten is destroyed in the process, but some brands have ingredients that contain gluten.

    Anyway, glad to see this post, particularly about a book where someone actually has food intolerances. 😉

  2. Pingback: Let It Snow Blog Tour | The Amazon Iowan

  3. Heidi, this looks so good! I totally understand about accidentally poisoning yourself with gluten. Been there, done that. LOL! I found a great bar code app that you can scan to see if something is gluten free. They don’t have everything in their database but they are constantly adding. It has saved me so many times. Along with telling you if the product is gluten free it gives you alternatives that are safe to eat. Love this app!

    The books sounds like a fun read!

  4. Pingback: Interview and Giveaway with Heidi Cullinan | Under the Covers Book Blog

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.