This is one of my go-to chicken dishes, using poached, pulled chicken. I cook the white beans from dried beans, but you could use canned beans, as well. The dish seems both homey and special, something you could be proud to serve for company with some crusty bread and a salad, but also an everyday meal just for the family. Just don’t tell my husband that I categorized the recipe as soup, because he insists soup is not a meal. You’ll notice that I call it a stew in the title, to which he would not object. Semantics.
I gave the poached chicken breast recipe way back in November and that’s exactly how I prepared the chicken here. I used the poaching broth—which does not have a strong chicken flavor because of the short cooking time—to cook the beans during their second hour, but I boosted the flavor with some Better Than Bouillon® chicken base. An alternative would be to make your own chicken stock with a whole chicken and pull off the meat for the stew, but I find that those chickens have given up too much of their flavor to the stock. Cooking the beans in the same pot in which you are making the stock would make it a real stew, which to me means that all ingredients are cooked together, stewing. It’s a toss up as to the best way to put these ingredients together, but this method using the versatile poached breasts is one of our standard meals once every month or two.
White Bean Chicken Stew with Baby Spinach
In any order, prepare the chicken and beans, then combine with spinach or arugula for a short simmer.
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, poached with garlic, peppercorns, bay leaf, and salt, then shredded. Save the poaching broth.
Recipe for Poached Chicken Breasts: https://kitchenportfolio.wordpress.com/2014/11/26/poached-chicken-breasts/
1 1/4 lb great northern beans
water or chicken stock or some kind of flavorful chicken base product
about 3 cups baby spinach or arugula, roughly chopped (or not)
- I usually start the beans first, because the quick-soak method takes two hours:
- Bring the beans to a boil in 3 cups water and boil for 1 minute. cover and turn off the heat, letting them soak for 1 hour.
- Return the beans to a second boil—at this point, I like to drain off the water and replace it with chicken stock or the poaching liquid fortified with Better Then Bouillon®—then reduce to a simmer, covered, for another hour.
- The beans can continue to cook in your recipe, even a recipe that goes into the oven. Beans stand up to a lot of cooking.
- Add the greens to the beans and simmer until wilted, then add the shredded chicken, cover and simmer for another 15-30 minutes. Two chicken breasts makes a lot of shredded chicken!
This is a simple dish, but it seems special, even though we have it all the time.