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This white chili with butternut squash brings comfort and balance

(Scott Suchman for The Washington Post/food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post)
White Chili With Butternut Squash
Active time:30 mins
Total time:55 mins
Active time:30 mins
Total time:55 mins
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Let’s talk about comfort food. My household has been in dire need of comfort lately, and my husband and I have been gravitating toward stereotypical American comfort food, meaning carbs and sweets and — jackpot! — carby sweets.

This is by no means a rant against carbs; I couldn’t live without them. But the problem with some “comfort” food is that I don’t always feel so comfortable after eating it — at least not when I go overboard, which of course I’m more likely to do when I’m emotionally needy. It’s a vicious circle.

So lately I’ve been looking to bring some balance back to my eating, and I turned to “Power Plates,” a 2018 cookbook by Gena Hamshaw with a plant-based protein, fat and carbs in every recipe. Since I’ve been slowly getting my cooking mojo back after losing it in the wake of our foster son’s departure, it also has helped that Hamshaw’s recipes are quick and simple.

This restorative soup of collards, potatoes and chiles soothes a foster dad grieving a child’s departure

The one I keep coming back to is this white chili, which combines beans with butternut squash, quinoa and two types of canned chiles — mild green ones and spicier chipotles. I love how the chiles contrast, how easily the dish comes together. The most time-consuming part of the prep is dealing with the butternut squash, but a sharp knife, a peeler and a little video tutorial from my colleague Aaron Hutcherson are all you need.

Once the chili’s on the table, I think you’ll agree: Comfort never tasted so good, nor felt so nourishing.

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Storage Notes: The chili can be refrigerated for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 6 months.


  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion (12 ounces), chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 3 cups cooked or canned no-salt-added navy, Great Northern or cannellini beans (from 2 15-ounce cans), drained and rinsed
  • 1 small zucchini (8 ounces), trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 3/4-inch cubes
  • 2 (4-ounce) cans mild green chiles with their liquid
  • 2 tablespoons chopped chipotles in adobo with their sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt or table salt, plus more to taste
  • 3 cups homemade or low-sodium vegetable broth (see related recipe for Scrappy Vegetable Broth)
  • 2/3 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus more to taste

Step 1

In a large pot over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it's tender and translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until very fragrant, about 1 minute.

Step 2

Stir in the beans, zucchini, squash, green chiles, chipotles in adobo, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder and salt, followed by the broth and quinoa. Increase the heat to high, bring to a boil, then lower the heat until the mixture is simmering, cover, and cook until the squash is fork-tender and the quinoa is fully cooked, about 20 minutes.

Step 3

Uncover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the chili is thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, taste, and season with more salt and/or lime juice, if needed. Serve hot.

Nutrition Information

Per serving (1 2/3 cups)

Calories: 328; Total Fat: 4 g; Saturated Fat: 1 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 597 mg; Carbohydrates: 60 g; Dietary Fiber: 12 g; Sugar: 7 g; Protein: 15 g

This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

Adapted from “Power Plates” by Gena Hamshaw (Ten Speed Press, 2018).

Tested by Joe Yonan; email questions to

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