Pazole Verde and Embracing the Tomatillo

For the longest time, I was intimidated by the tomatillo. I regularly shied away from it at the market. It just wasnt a vegetable I was very familiar with. Something about those papery skins turned me off. It seemed like a vegetable that probably didnt taste all that good since, to me, it looked like it was never ripe. It wasnt until I realized that salsa verde, that pleasantly refreshing condiment at my favorite Mexican restaurant, was made from those pretty green vegetables that always show up at the farmers market this time of year. 

I was determined to make something with this new-to-me vegetable in my own kitchen. Soon after, this soup was born. And it has become one of my favorites. Im already coming up with other ways to use the tomatillo because it is my new best friend.
Pasole Verde (serves 4 generously)
 1 cup dried hominy (alternatively, you may use 1 can of prepared hominy)
olive oil
2 onions
12 tomatillos, papery skins removed
1 jalapeño, deseeded
8 cloves of garlic 
1/2 teaspoon cumin
4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 large bunch cilantro
For garnish:
avocado, radish, cotija or feta cheese, crumbled tortilla chips, lime, chopped cilantro

  1. Soak the hominy in plenty of water the night before you plan to make the soup. When youre ready to prepare the soup, drain and rinse the soaked hominy and put in a pot with enough water to cover by two inches. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the hominy is tender and most of the kernels have bloomed open. This could take up to an hour.  Reserve the cooking water to use as the broth in the soup. *Note: Skip this step if you are using canned hominy. In which case, just strain and rinse the hominy and set aside
  2. Chop the onions, tomatillos, jalapeño, and garlic. In a large pot over medium heat, add two tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onion with a pinch of salt until its beginning to soften. Add the tomatillos and jalapeño. Stir occasionally until the tomatillos begin to soften, about 7 minutes or so. Add the garlic, cumin, and enough pasole cooking water to just cover the vegetables. *Note: If using canned pasole, use water or broth of your choice in place of the cooking liquid.
  3. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until it is almost smooth. Bring the pureed soup back to a simmer and add the chicken thighs. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Turn the chicken once or twice during that time to encourage even cooking.
  4. While the soup simmers, chop the cilantro finely. You may also include chopped cilantro stems, as well. When the chicken is cooked through, remove the thighs from the pot and shred or cut them into small pieces. Return the chicken to the pot, along with the chopped cilantro and the strained hominy. Stir well to combine and allow the cilantro to wilt a bit. If the soup is too thick, add more cooking liquid, water, or broth to your desired consistency. Taste and add salt as needed.
  5. Serve the soup garnished with avocado, cilantro, sliced radish, lime, cotija cheese, and crumbled tortilla chips.

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