Light color, deep flavor — a healthy white chili with lime

The first time I ate white chicken chili, it was wrapped in a burrito. And I fell instantly in love.

So here is my lightened-up version of white chicken chili. Eat it by the bowl, over rice (preferably brown) or spooned into a whole-wheat tortilla.

To make this dish creamy without any cream, thicken it by mashing up some of the beans. Combined with a tiny bit of reduced-fat sour cream, the mashed beans provide an unexpectedly luxurious texture.

Good flavor aside, white beans are also a powerhouse of good nutrition. They’re a terrific source of fiber — which means this chili will fill you up — and a very good source of folate and manganese.

The list of ingredients in this recipe is longish, but good chili requires a fair amount of flavors.

On the other hand, this version, unlike the traditional one, doesn’t need to simmer for hours, which makes it quite doable on a weeknight.

The base of this chili is ground chicken and white beans, both of which are affordable. If you can’t find ground chicken, use ground turkey. And if you’re not a fan of either, swap in lean ground beef.

If you want to heat it up, lose the canned chilies in favor of fresh ones. Poblanos — roasted, peeled and chopped — would be perfect, as would chopped and sauteed jalapenos and serranos. Or you can use pure chili powder made from ground dried chilies, such as chipotles. Or just finish the dish with your favorite hot sauce.

And don’t forget the garnishes. They add so many layers of flavor and texture to the finished bowl of chili.

Sara Moulton was executive chef at Gourmet magazine for nearly 25 years, and spent a decade hosting several Food Network shows. She stars in public television’s “Sara’s Weeknight Meals” and has written three cookbooks, including “Sara Moulton’s Everyday Family Dinners.”

White Chicken Chili With Lime

Serves 6.

1 tbl. vegetable oil

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1 red bell pepper, cored and chopped

1 lb. ground chicken or turkey

1 tbl. minced garlic

11/2 tbls. chili powder

1 tblp. all-purpose flour

1 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 cup white wine (optional)

11/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth (use 2 cups if not using the wine)

Two 151/2-oz. cans white beans, drained and rinsed

41/2-ounce can chopped green chilies (use less if you prefer a very mild chili)

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Salt and ground black pepper

To serve:

Chopped scallions

Chopped fresh cilantro

Grated low-fat Monterey Jack cheese

Lime wedges

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Reduce heat to medium-low, add onion and red pepper, then cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is softened. Add chicken and cook, breaking up any large pieces, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes.

2. Add garlic, chili powder, flour, cumin and oregano and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add white wine, if using, and broth in a stream, whisking. Bring mixture to boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, with a fork mash 1 cup of the beans. Add both whole and mashed beans and the chilies to the chili and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in sour cream and cook until hot. Season with salt and pepper.

4. Ladle chili into bowls and garnish with scallions, cilantro, cheese and lime wedges.

Nutrition information per serving: 410 calories (120 calories from fat — 29 percent of total calories); 13 grams fat (4.5 grams saturated; 0 gram trans fats); 75 mg cholesterol; 41 grams carbohydrate; 9 grams fiber; 3 grams sugar; 29 grams protein; 430 mg sodium.