For Christians, the holiday season (and specifically Advent) is a time of renewal. A time to clean some of the skeletons out of the closet and prepare the way for Christmas. I think we all have things we aren’t proud of or actions we regret. Perhaps, this holiday season, we’ll take the opportunity to let go of those old hurts, to let go of those things weighing us down. Whether that means letting bygones be bygones, or extending that olive branch, or saying I Love You, or being more empathetic and compassionate – the world needs a little bit more kindness. And that kindness starts from within. Only then, can we truly enjoy the spirit of the holiday season, basking in love and peace and joy.Posole6

Chicken Posole Soup
Adapted from Pioneer Woman
As the temperatures drop (it is currently 50*F in our house this morning), I crave warm soup for sustenance. Unfortunately, living with David means that a lot of the soups I make are not man-friendly… meaning, there isn’t much in terms of nutrition or protein. This recipe fits the bill in satisfying both of us. The broth is enriched with chicken bones (great with leftover turkey too!), and has a lot of body and thickness thanks to the cornmeal. The soup is bursting with vibrant flavors, and the toppings and accompaniments are varied and versatile. After the bustle of Thanksgiving, this is the perfect bowl to ease into a cozy evening before the week starts again.

4 chicken thighs, skin-on and bone-in
1 tbs salt
1 tbs garlic powder
fresh cracked pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ancho or cayenne chili powder (ancho has a great smokiness that I love in this soup)
1 tsp Mexican oregano
2 bay leaves
1 medium diced onion
3-5 cloves of garlic, minced
3-4 tbs tomato paste
2 diced green bell peppers
4 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
2-3 c water
3 tbs cornmeal
1 30 oz can of hominy, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper, to taste
Toppings: avocado, cilantro, lime, tortilla strips, crema

Thickly coat the chicken thighs with salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked pepper and set aside. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy dutch oven. Once hot, place the chicken thighs, skin side down and sear the chicken until skin browns and crisps. Flip the chicken thighs and brown the other side. The idea is to impart some fat and flavor into the pot, not to cook the chicken. Remove the chicken pieces from the pot, allow chicken to cool a bit before handling. Carefully discard the (now charred) skin and shred the meat. The meat will still be raw, so handle with care. Take the bones and toss back into the pot.Posole1Heat the pot to a medium high and and add the cumin, ancho chili powder, and Mexican oregano. This will toast the spices and herbs, and help draw out more of the fragrance and flavor. Next, add the onion, garlic, tomato paste and bell peppers, allowing to sweat until tender and translucent, then eventually brown a bit. Stir as needed to distribute the tomato paste. Add the bay leaves, shredded chicken, diced tomatoes (with juice), chicken broth and water. With a wooden spoon or spatula, gently scrape the browned/burnt bits leftover from when you were searing the chicken and heating the veggies. This will add more flavor and depth to the soup. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.

Posole2Add the cornmeal and stir to distribute. Allow to simmer for another 5 minutes to allow the soup to thicken. Add the hominy and cook for another 5 minutes. At this point, if the soup is too thick, add additional chicken stock/water as needed, and adjust the seasoning. If the soup is too thin, add a bit more cornmeal, making sure to stir to distribute. Again, make sure to adjust the seasoning as needed. Fish out the chicken bones and bay leaves, which have heroically given themselves to the soup.Posole4To serve, ladle soup into bowls and top with cilantro, diced avocados, strips of tortilla, crema, and a wedge of lime. Enjoy!Posole7This weekend we’ve been really productive in kicking off our holiday season – our noble fir stands proudly in the corner, perfuming the air with a sweet pine fragrance. The candles and wreaths have been brought out to decorate the entry way and mantles. The presents have been bought and wrapped, sitting expectantly under the tree. The oven and kitchen have been working non-stop (more recipes to come!). It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Even our pup is Christmas ready.Fred3

Hope you have a great start to your holiday season. Thanks for joining me!

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