I own approximately 1 million cardigans. I am basically always cold at work and they are more office-appropriate than a slanket, or my new “Brooklyn Rules” sweatshirt (thanks, Jessie! I love it!). To be fair, on a scale of zero to Hades, my office usually clocks in somewhere around the negative of whatever your ideal indoor temperature is, and my arsenal of cardigans is my first line of defense.
My cardigan collection is so extensive, in fact, that when the recent New York Times article titled, “Chilly at Work? Office Formula Was Devised For Men” came out, I got not one but three emails about it from co-workers. A few days later, a (male, obviously) partner I barely know called me to ask if I had read the newspaper that morning. Assuming that leightogreato.com had finally gotten the huge break it deserves, I blushed and said no. I was just being coy — I had read the news that morning, I just wanted to make him tell me that I was finally an internationally famous food blogger. But then he said, “Oh, that’s too bad, because the Times says you’re just cold all the time because you’re a girl.” And then he directed me to www.nytimes.com to find the article and hung up before I had a chance to say that I’m actually a woman, and also I obviously know how to find a New York Times article (I’m a girl, not an idiot), and also that news story came out days ago, and are you familiar with the process by which newspapers change their content every day? To be fair, my brain was actually developing frostbite as that conversation was occurring, so I don’t think I said anything other than, “Oh, that’s interesting. Thanks for sharing.”
Anyway, like I said, my 1 million cardigans are just my first — and cutest — line of defense. There is a small space heater under my desk (which makes my skin really dry and amplifies the smell of the basket of shoes that also lives under my desk — not cute) and pair of leggings in the drawer in case of emergency on skirt days (never. cute.). Coffee runs with my coworkers involve hot lattes, even on steamy August afternoons (at least cute-neutral). And a warm lunch can be a godsend. Which is obviously easy in winter — chili heats up nicely, as does a bowl of stew or pasta with meaty tomato sauce. But in the summer, when I am eating nothing but cool, crunchy vietnamese summer rolls at home, I want something warm and hearty at work that still manages to take advantage of the delicious summer produce.
So, this week, I treated myself to the best of both worlds: a summery take on my favorite winter soup, Green Chicken Posole. I subbed out the posole (aka, hominy) for blackened summer sweet corn. The soup is still spicy and fresh (and best served hot), but just a touch lighter and full of the crunch that you can only get from fresh end of season corn. A warm reminder of the steamy August afternoon outside my over-air conditioned office building.
Flashback! One year ago on Leighto-Greato: Peach Caprese Salad Bites
- 2 jalapenos
- 2 poblano peppers
- 3 ears of fresh sweet corn
- 1 lb. boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 4 c. chicken stock or water
- Avocado, for garnish
- Tortilla chips, for garnish
- Blacken the jalapenos, poblano peppers and corn under the broiler (if you are crazy or live in the arctic) or on a grill (if you live in a steamy, albeit lovely and new, Brooklyn apartment). Once they are blackened on all sides (or at least two), put the peppers in a brown paper bag to cool, and set aside the corn. Once cool, peel the skin off the pepper, remove the stems and chop roughly. Cut the corn off the cobs.
- Do not rinse the chicken thighs. Do not pat them dry. (I heard on a recent America's Test Kitchen podcast that we actually shouldn't pat chicken dry before pan-frying it because the slightly damp chicken will stick to the pan and leave behind more browned bits, which a better Maillard reaction and better pan sauce.)
- Heat the vegetable oil over high heat in a soup pot.
- Brown the chicken thighs for 3-5 minutes on each side, until well-browned. They should stick a bit to the pan, especially at first. Once they are good and brown, though, you should be able to flip them over easily and brown on the other side. You may need to do this in batches, depending on how many pieces of chicken you have and how big your pot is. If you overcrowd the pan, the chicken will steam instead of brown, so I usually do this in two batches to be safe.
- Set aside the chicken thighs in a bowl and reduce the heat to medium-high.
- Add the onions to the pot with the browned chicken bits and oil, and stir to scrape up the bits on the bottom. Allow the onions to cook about 5 minutes, until they are translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for a minute more, until fragrant, scraping periodically to get at the bits on the bottom.
- Once the onion is translucent and you can really smell the garlic, add the cilantro and the roughly chopped, blackened, skinned jalapenos and poblanos. Stir for another minute or two, until the cilantro is fragrant.
- Add the chicken stock or water and remove from heat. You are going to puree the soup base until completely smooth either in a blender (after it's had a few minutes to cool) or with an immersion blender (you should probably let it cool but I don't always).
- Once the soup base is smooth, return it to the pot (if you used a traditional blender) and bring it up to a boil over high heat. Chop the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and add them to the pot, along with the blackened corn kernels. Once the soup boils, reduce to a simmer for 5-10 minutes, to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through and to allow the flavors to mellow together.
- Serve hot with slices of avocado and tortilla strips.