I have a confession — I hate Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some gummy candy. But around the time that Halloween stopped being about tiny bags of sour patch kids and started being about slutty bee costumes, I got over it. To make things worse, Halloween happened to coincide with a lot of bad events in my life in high school and college — my first car accident, the first time my parents caught me drinking, the time my dad broke his hip (though, thank goodness, his injury was backflip- and not Halloween-related), the time that Texas lost to Texas Tech in Lubbock and I got the flu and had to drive my friends back to Austin even though I was terribly ill and had been in bed all weekend because they were too hungover to drive and all slept the whole 6 hour drive and I couldn’t figure out how to change the CD so I listed to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Stadium Arcadium album literally 6 times in a row alone.
So I am out on Halloween, and I am lucky enough to have a roommate as curmudgeonly as I am. When I asked the Boyfriend what he wants to do for Halloween this year he said, “Ugh, nothing outside!” Which means we’ll probably get take out and split a bag of gummy worms and watch Mindy Project on DVR. (You thought I was going to say either Hocus Pocus or a scary movie, right? Wrong. I hate scary movies — always have. I got nightmares from Are You Afraid Of The Dark and we’ve already discussed the crippling social anxiety I got after I watched What Lies Beneath. )
Full disclosure, though, I’m a little bit hesitant to gripe about how much I hate Halloween because I love so many other things about this time of year. Like how it’s suddenly soup weather all the time. Even setting aside the practicality of soup — it’s easy to throw together, hard to mess up, easy to cook in bulk, freezes well, travels well to work — this particular soup also happens to be just dang delicious. It’s my go-to soup for early Fall — warm and hearty, but the base speckled with pureed cilantro and peppers keeps everything tasting light and fresh. It comes together surprisingly quickly for a soup made from scratch, and freezes well. So if Halloween for you means a rom com and dinner at home, take advantage of the beautiful fall weather with a pot of this delicious soup!
- 2 poblano peppers (or 2 cans of green chiles, in a pinch)
- 1 T. vegetable oil
- 1 small white onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
- 2 jalapenos, roughly chopped
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 4 c. chicken stock
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks
- 2 14-oz cans of hominy, drained
- Avocado slices, cilantro leaves, and lime wedges, for serving
- Roast the poblano peppers. You can do this either directly on your gas stovetop or in the oven. If you're doing it on the stovetop, just balance the peppers over the flame and set the burners so that the tip of the flame barely touches the pepper. Let them pop and hiss over the flame until blackened, moving them around and turning until they are blackened all over. If you are doing it in the oven, preheat the oven to broil and put the peppers just below the broiler, turning to blacken them evenly. Once blackened all over, set the peppers aside in a brown paper bag to cool. Once they are cool, peel the skin off (it should slip off pretty easily) and roughly chop the poblanos.
- Chop the hard, woody ends off the cilantro stems, and make sure you have rinsed them really well (cilantro is grown in sandy soil and can be gritty unless it's really, really clean). Pull off a small handful of cilantro leaves and set them aside to garnish the soup. Roughly chop the rest of the cilantro into thirds or quarters. In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the vegetable oil until it's shimmery and pops if you flick a droplet of water on it. Add the roughly chopped onion and saute over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, jalapenos, roasted poblano peppers, and cilantro leaves and stems -- I always use the ribs and seeds from the poblanos and jalapenos, but if you really hate spicy food, you should take those out. Stir or shake well and saute for another minute or two, until the cilantro is wilted and you can smell the garlic and peppers cooking.
- If you have an immersion blender: Add the chicken stock, stirring to scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, and then remove the pot from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the soup mixture until smooth.
- If you don't have an immersion blender: Combine the onion and pepper mix and 1 c. of the chicken stock in a blender, and puree until smooth. You may need to adjust to add more chicken stock if the mixture isn't wet enough for the blender. Once the onion mixture is pureed in chicken stock, pour the mix and the remaining stock back into the pot.
- Bring the onion and pepper puree up to a boil and add the chicken chunks. Reduce the pot to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes or so -- until the chicken pieces are cooked all the way through and the soup base is flecked with dark green. Add the drained hominy and warm through -- it should take only a minute or two to get up to temperature.
- Serve hot, with slices of avocado, cilantro leaves and lime wedges. This soup freezes beautifully -- just allow it to cool and freeze for 3 months or less.