Soaked from a walk in the rain after my weather app failed me last weekend, I made this Instant Pot White Chicken Chili — a welcome comfort meal that was near immediate self gratification and warmed my stomach and soul.

I started with garlic and oil on the saute function. Then quickly added jalapeño, fresno chili, celery, onion and carrots to the pot. I felt lucky that my hubby, Geordie, was able to find some jalapeño and fresno chilis at the market because they were the flavor backbone of this hearty soup along with a number of dried spices. I also feel lucky that I’ve got a decent stockpile of chicken of all sorts in the deep freeze and some canned white beans and bone broth in the pantry. They all went into the pot for some pressure cooking. After a quick release, I added in some sour cream, basically all I had left in the refrigerator. Truthfully, I used creme fraiche because I had some that was purchased before coronavirus was our reality. I then ladled the chili into bowls and topped with a little extra salt and pepper and some fresh cilantro. It tasted divine.

And it was the gift that kept on giving. This white chicken chili was lunch two days last week — a welcome relief from the routine of cooking three meals a day every day while also working full time, cleaning and home schooling.

These are crazy coronavirus times. The reality that we will be staying at home for weeks if not months has crushingly set in. I’m sick of looking at my own face without make-up. Yoga pants are my uniform and wearing jeans is dressing up. It’s only a matter of time before the mouse brown roots begin to show on my head. I’m working out for at least an hour, sometimes two hours, a day. I’ve beat my own record for Peloton rides twice this week. But not sure the exercise is making up for my nightly wine drinking.

I’ve literally never cooked this much in my entire life. I’m used to commuting into the city and traveling around the country for work, grabbing breakfast and lunch in airports or at my law firm’s cafeteria and cooking dinner when I am not staying in a hotel. Now we eat every meal at Cafe du Pont. Scrambled eggs or Egg and cheese on an english muffin have become a standbys for breakfast or if I’m feeling creative, corn tortilla with spinach, egg and cheese. For lunch and dinner, this week alone we had pulled pork, lemon and garlic chicken breasts (again in the Instant Pot), grilled chicken tenders, grilled pork chops, quesadillas, stuffed peppers, bolognese sauce with our own homemade zoodles (thank god i purchased that gimmicky machine on a whim a couple of years back!). And don’t forget the tuna salad with capers and fresh dill that was lunch on Thursday (I think it was Thursday), and I didn’t even break into the two palettes of canned tuna my husband bought from amazon yet!

Some days are harder than others, but there are certain things that keep me going. Sunshine and fresh air are critical. My daily walk in the neighborhood often with my son and always with my hubby and our dog Chewie (who has never been happier!) through sun, wind and rain is a necessary part of my day. Nighttime zoom calls with colleagues and friends have become our social outlet. I find myself trying to find at least one news article a day that gives me hope or shows how we are helping one another to get through this. And we will get through this coronavirus war because that is what it feels like, a war. We just have to take it one day at a time and focus on the little joys that life at home can bring. Something as simple as this Instant Pot White Chicken Chili.


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1 fresno chili, seed and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained (or 3 cups homemade beans)
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (alternatively breasts or tenders)
  • 1 cup chicken broth (preferably bone broth)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  • Sauté the garlic and vegetables: Select the sauté setting on your pressure cooker and heat the olive oil and garlic for 2 minutes, until the garlic is bubbling.
  • Add the jalapeño, fresno chili, celery, onion and carrots, and sauté for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
  • Add the spices, beans, and chicken: Add the cumin, oregano, coriander, cayenne, and salt and sauté for about 1 minute more, until aromatic.
  • Pour the beans over the vegetables, layer the chicken pieces on top, and pour in the broth. Do not stir.
  • Pressure cook the chicken: Secure the lid on your pressure cooker in its sealing position. Cancel the sauté program, then select the manual setting and set the cooking time for 15 minutes at high pressure. (The pot will take about 10 minutes to come up to pressure before the cooking program begins.)
  • Release the pressure: Perform a quick pressure release by moving the pressure cooker’s lid to its vented position, or let the pressure release naturally.
  • Shred and season the chicken: When the pressure has fully released, open the pot and using a pair of forks, break up the chicken into shreds. Add the sour cream and cilantro and stir to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.

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