I broke out my fall garb this week, and taught my students a valuable lesson while wearing a cozy wrap/scarf that the mister got for me in Amsterdam. A scarf is just a socially acceptable way to wear a blanket to work or school. You’ll see me wearing a lot of “scarves” in the coming days. The Dutch have a specific word for all things cozy, inviting, friendly and warm: gezellig. It’s one of those words that has no English translation. Picture a cool misty fall day. Gezellig is arriving home from work and snuggling up in a cozy knit blanket with a cup of tea, a book, and your favorite furry companion (canine, feline, or hey, even human). It’s huddling around a fire with friends, steaming mugs of soup in hand. The leaves are swirling around, and it’s hinting at frost. It’s gezellig time, so I thought I’d share my favorite after-work gezellig I meal to spread a bit o’ the cozy. If everyone were just a bit more gezellig, the world would be a happier place.
This particular posole was inspired by the last tomatillos I pulled from my garden. This year’s tomato and tomatillo harvest hasn’t been the usual up-to-the-gills harvest of 30 pounds at a time. It’s been slow, late and steady. It’s almost as if my plants are telling me to relax and enjoy. Instead of the mad rush to can quart after quart, I’ve been able plan special meals to showcase the different varieties.
Posole has been one of my go-to meals after work. I always keep a couple cans of hominy in the pantry for the occasion. If you’ve never had hominy, think large puffy grains of corn with a slight potato texture. Plantain is to banana as hominy is to corn. The basic idea is to sauté onions and vegetables and simmer them in broth with the hominy. I like to blend the raw tomatillos with the cilantro with some of the soup and add it at the end so that it retains its vibrant green color. This is the kind of soup that wafts out the front door and makes the mailman hungry.
Tomatillo-Veggie (or Chicken) Posole
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium white onion, chopped
- 1 bell pepper, diced (any color)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
- 1/2 lb tomatillos, papery skins removed–1/4 lb diced, 1/4 lb halved
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chile powder
- 6-8 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 25-ounce cans hominy, drained
- 2 cups chopped cilantro (leaves and upper stems), plus additional for garnish
- juice from 1-2 limes, plus additional slices for serving
- Salt to taste
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken (store bought, or homemade)
- 1 avocado, diced (for garnish)
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot. Sauté the onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes, until beginning to soften, but not brown. Add the garlic, and sauté for a minute more. Add the tomato and diced tomatillo, the coriander, cumin, and chile powder. Season with a couple pinches of salt, and cook over medium heat until starting to soften, about 4 minutes. Add broth (start with 6 cups, add additional if desired), carrots, and hominy. Add salt to taste. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15-20 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Remove 1 1/2 cups of the soup to a blender (including some of the solids) . Add the cilantro, and the halved tomatillos. Hold the top of the blender down with a dish towel, and blend until smooth. Stir the tomatillo sauce into the soup. Add the chicken, if using and simmer over low heat for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and the juice of 1-2 limes. Serve in bowls topped with avocado and cilantro.