Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Perfect Pozole

I've been craving soup quite a bit this winter.  Odd, considering I've never been a fan of soup.  Too much slurping, usually not at all filling, and many times over, it's too salty.

Or, in some cases, reminds you of when you had the flu.  Not at all appetizing.

But tonight's soup was very appetizing.  My youngest daughter loves it and has deemed it in her top two (the other being black bean soup).  It's a bowl full of spicy, sassy, steamy goodness.  I've combined a Yucatan Lime Soup with a Chicken Pozole.  Please feel free to leave out the cloves and the seeds in the Serrano pepper if you do not enjoy either, but please leave the cinnamon stick in as well as the hominy.  Without the cinnamon and hominy, this soup would be a sad mess.  I used canela instead of common cinnamon sticks and I also used Mexican oregano.  Try your Food Lion or Asian market for the canela.  I found mine at the Asian market.  Most supermarkets have the McCormick brand of Mexican oregano, and I like the whole dried leaves so I can crunch them myself.  Invest in both if you can, it does make a difference, a difference your taste buds will appreciate.

Before I  post the recipe, let's talk about one of the more important savory staples - GARLIC.  I am going to rant here.  Do not, whatever you do, buy jarred garlic.  Please.  If you love yourself and those you cook for at all, you'll put that jar you have straight into the garbage.  That is disgusting.  It looks as though someone has chewed up perfectly good cloves of garlic and once made into mush, spit them into a jar full of funky chemicals.  And you're going to dare to put that in your food and serve it???  If you hate peeling cloves, buy them pre-peeled in your produce department.  Heck, even garlic powder is better than jarred garlic.  And do not kid yourself - those in the know will always be able to flag a dish that has been made with the sour, bitter, foul-smelling, half masticated bits of jarred garlic.  Use fresh.  They cost less than a buck a head and they keep rather well in a dark cabinet.

And while you're at it, toss that plastic lemon out.

Thank you.  No - really.  Thank you.

Maggie's Chicken Pozole
Serves 6 Large Bowls


1 tbsp. Safflower or Olive Oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 Serrano chile, sliced thin (leave seeds out for less heat)
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. Mexican oregano
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 stick Canela or Cinnamon Stick
8 black peppercorns
6 whole cloves
32 oz. carton chicken broth
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes, drained
Juice of one lime, use only FRESH LIMES
3/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, roasted and shredded
1 can corn niblets, drained
1 can hominy, drained

In a large Dutch oven, heat oil and then saute onion and Serrano.  Cover and cook on med-low until soft, about five minutes.  While this is cooking, make a pouch from the cheesecloth for the peppercorns, canela, and cloves.  Tie into a bundle.  

After onion and pepper are soft, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, and oregano.  Combine and toss in the bundle, sauteing for one minute.

Add broth, tomatoes, lime juice, and cilantro.  Stir well. Simmer on medium or med-low for 30 minutes.  Discard bundle.  Use a stick blender (if you do not want a chunkier soup) to make contents smooth.

Add in chicken, hominy, and corn.  Stir well and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  

Maggie and I enjoyed ours with Quesadillas made from low-carb tortillas and a few thin slices of queso blanco.  This soup, I believe, has the magical ability to turn any frown upside down and gray skies into sunshine.  For you vegetarians out there, skip the chicken broth for veggie and add a can of chickpeas in place of the shredded chicken.  It's the perfect Pozole either way. 

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