Comfort can come in a lot of different forms – a hug, kind words, a fuzzy blanket, or a warm bowl of chili. Chili? Yes, for me chili is comfort. It’s a warm bowl of pure happiness. Why is that? I think I’ve figured it out and guess what – it has everything to do with emotions and memories and that’s what makes it a perfect Fertility Friday food!
I don’t know how my love affair of Mexican food began. It sure wasn’t inspired by anything I ate while growing up. I’m from the Midwest, so that’s part of my excuse. But, really, when I was younger (dating myself here), the closest I could get to Mexican food was a certain fast food chain (hello, chalupa) and a certain fast-casual food chain (hola, unlimited chips and salsa!). It’s a wonder, then, how I came to love Mexican food so much.
But I do love it and it has changed my life in the best, most positive way possible. How can a cuisine do that you ask? Simply, by educating me about food. I read so many great recipes featuring Mexican cooking and Mexican chefs, and I learned two important lessons. The first lesson I learned was the necessity of properly using spices to season food. The second lesson I learned was the importance of layering flavor, an indispensable tool used to build a recipe so that dishes go from ok to awesome. Those two lessons are the inspiration for how I make many of my dishes, including this Chicken Posole.
It’s not just another stew, it’s something that honors those lessons of properly using spices and building flavor. It’s brimming with everything from cumin to green chiles to the super delicious and texturally-pleasing hominy. This Chicken Posole is a tribute to honestly good food. It can fill any hungry or “hangry” belly and bring a smile to any face.
READ THIS PEOPLE!
Whew, did I get your attention? Good, that was on purpose. I want you to read this part because these are tips for success, including a few reasons why I did what I did with this recipe. Read on…
- Buy the skin-on, bone-in chicken. Trust me! The skin helps add depth of flavor in two ways. First, when you sear it, you’ll get some yummy browned bits that stick to the pan, that’s called fond, and it’s good stuff. Second, you’ll cook the chicken with the skin-on, which will give your stew a really nice, enhanced chicken broth taste. (Don’t worry, you’ll take the skin off and bones off before you eat it!)
- Back to that chicken, don’t even think about touching it or peeking at it while you’re searing it. You’ll just rip the skin right off and you’ll be mad and cry. I want you to be happy.
- I add flour here, why? Because I want a stew that’s thick and by adding this flour and cooking it with the fat, I accomplish that. No whimpy stew broth for me!
And here, the montage of pictures honoring this Chicken Posole
A big pot of warmth, this stew is hearty and loaded with flavor. Perfect for tailgates or potlucks or a delicious family dinner.
- 1 tablespoon vegeatable oil
- 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (about 3/4 pound)
- 2 skin-on, bone-in chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 pound)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/3 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 (15.5-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 (25-ounce) can hominy, drained
- 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
- 1 lime, juiced
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
- Heat the oil in a pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season the chicken with salt then arrange, skin-side down in the pot. Cook about 6-7 minutes, until skin is golden brown. Move to a plate.
- Add the onion and carrots to the pot and cook until softened, about 6-7 minutes. Add the chili powder and cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in the flour and cook and stir for 1 more minute. Add the chicken broth, stirring to scrape any bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring mixture to a simmer then add the chicken, pressing it into the liquid to fully submerge it. Reduce the heat to medium-low, simmer uncovered, until chicken is cooked (has reached an internal temperature of 165’F), about 25 minutes. Check occasionally during cooking to ensure that chicken is still submerged. Add water, 1/2 cup at a time to keep chicken in the cooking liquid.
- Remove the chicken to a cutting board and let it cool 5 minutes. (At this point you can also skim the surface of the soup to remove any scum or excess oil/fat.)
- Carefully remove and discard skin. Using a fork, remove the meat from the bones. Discard bones. Roughly chop the chicken and add it back to the pot along with the drained beans, hominy and chiles. Cook an additional 10 minutes.
- Stir in lime juice and cilantro and serve.
- This recipe makes about 9 cups of stew, this allows for a generous 1 1/2 cup portion for 6 people.
- Serving Size: 6
- Calories: 346
- Sugar: 2
- Sodium: 557
- Fat: 9
- Saturated Fat: 2
- Unsaturated Fat: 6
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 38
- Protein: 28
- Cholesterol: 77
Why I made this recipe: Because “soup season” has officially begun in my household and because I really enjoy a bold-flavored, hearty soup like this Red Curry Quinoa Soup.
Why I love this recipe: Well, for the reasons I made this soup and for a few more too. First, quinoa is one of my favorite grains, not only is it nutritious, but it cooks super fast. That means this soup comes together fast too! Why else, you ask? Because it’s totally satisfying. There’s nothing I dislike more than a weak, bland, watery soup. This one is none of those things!
How this recipe is healthy: Oh, that quinoa! Not only does it cook fast, but it is so nutritious! A perfect source of vegetarian protein and loaded with fiber and iron, it’s a delightful alternative to rice and other grains. And how about that red curry paste! Never heard of it? Well, let me introduce you to your new kitchen staple. This stuff is simply magical. Typically used in Thai cooking, it adds serious depth of flavor to any dish you make, plus a little heat. All of that flavor doesn’t even come at a caloric cost either! The ingredients, usually chili peppers, garlic, galangal (or Thai ginger), shallot, spices and kaffir lime are foods that are loaded with antioxidants and other nutrients, that also happen to be amazingly flavorful. A true culinary and nutritional gem.
And here are the pretty pictures:
Red Curry Quinoa Soup
A hearty soup made with earthy, robust red curry paste, fresh vegetables and quinoa.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, diced (about 3/4 cup chopped)
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 medium sweet potato, diced (about 1 1/2 cups chopped)
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tablespoon red curry paste
- 2 teaspoons peeled, chopped fresh ginger
- 1 cup quinoa
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- Sea or Kosher salt, to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Heat the oil in a pot set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, pepper and sweet potato and cook, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, curry paste and ginger and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the quinoa and cook 1 minute more. Stir in the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender and quinoa is cooked.
- Remove from heat and add the lime juice. Season with salt to taste and garnish with fresh cilantro before serving.
- Cut the potatoes into half-inch cubes, this helps them to cook more quickly. And don’t worry if they’re not exactly a half-inch, just about that size is perfect! 🙂
- Portion is a generous 1 cup.
- Serving Size: 6
- Calories: 164
- Sugar: 2
- Sodium: 637
- Fat: 4
- Saturated Fat: 1
- Unsaturated Fat: 3
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 26
- Protein: 6
- Cholesterol: 0
As a newly minted member of the Recipe Redux, I was overjoyed that my first recipe theme was “spooky” spices. “Great!” I thought, “I love Halloween and I love spices!” I had a million ideas, that was until I saw the complete description of the October theme. As I read on, it became clear that they were going with a different angle. It turns out that I had to find a spice that I was afraid of or one that I had used that turned out to be a total failure.
Embarrassingly, I have had plenty of total disasters involving spices. Let’s see, there was the curried chicken dish that I served my husband that tasted like glue. Or the pot of 9 bean soup that had a flavor profile that likely resembled fresh dirt. How could I choose? I settled on cumin seed. Years ago I had made a recipe that called for toasting cumin seed. I was young and just out of college, trying to impress my friends. Thinking that I knew what I was doing, I set the cumin seed in the pan, turned the heat to high and walked away. Anyone who has toasted spices knows this is a huge mistake. Those cumin seeds went from smelling wonderful to smelling like a 5-alarm fire. It was a mess and without any back-up seeds, I had to serve a sub-par dish. So here I am, many years later, ready and willing to tackle the cumin seed again. This time, I would make soup and being older and wiser, I would stand-by, keeping an eye on those precious seeds so that they wouldn’t burn.
Ironically, I now love toasting spices. It adds so much complexity and warmth to a dish. In this recipe I decided to use red lentils as a hearty neutral base because they accept spices so well. I included a trimmed and lightly macerated stalk of lemongrass to the cooking liquid to provide a refreshing hint of citrus. And to finish, I added light coconut milk which gives the soup a delightful creamy sweetness.
Fearful no more of toasting spices, I am instead grateful for the learning experience I got from those cooking disasters. I will continue to make mistakes, but from mistakes sometimes come the best results! Bon Appetit!
Red Lentil Soup with Toasted Cumin and Coriander
Earthy red lentils cooked with toasted spices and lemongrass-infused broth then finished with a touch of light coconut milk.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup chopped onion)
- 1 large carrot, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup chopped)
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 3/4 cup red lentils, rinsed
- 2 1/2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 stalk lemongrass, trimmed and smashed*
- 3/4 cup light coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- Set a pot over medium heat and add the oil. Once the oil is hot add the celery, onion and carrots and cook vegetables until softened, about 10 minutes.
- Add the cumin seed, coriander and cayenne to the pot and cook, stirring frequently to toast the spices, about 1-2 minutes. Add lentils, broth and lemongrass and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until lentils are cooked and tender, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the coconut milk and cook 5 minutes more. Add lemon juice, then remove pot from the heat.
- Using a stick blender or regular blender, puree the soup to a smooth consistency. (Note: If using a regular blender, stay safe and prevent unwanted burns by blending in batches and allowing soup to cool slightly before pureeing.
- Serve warm topped with a dollop of Greek yogurt.
- To prepare the lemongrass for the soup, first remove the outer leaves from the stalk. Take off a few layers until you get to the more tender inner leaves. Trim off the root end and also cut off the top of the stalk, leaving about 5 inches of lemongrass. Gently smash the stalk using a meat mallet, the back of a large knife or rolling pin to release the oils and then add to the soup pot.
- Portion is a generous 1/2 cup.
- Serving Size: 6
- Calories: 282
- Sugar: 1
- Sodium: 71
- Fat: 13
- Saturated Fat: 7
- Unsaturated Fat: 5
- Trans Fat: 0
- Carbohydrates: 18
- Protein: 24
- Cholesterol: 52