Stand back, other soups. Posole just pulled up.
Are you picturing a bowl of this slick, brothy hero rolling up to a red carpet in sunglasses right now or is that just me?
Before we begin breaking down this iconic Mexican favorite, I should mention that if you’ve seen this dish spelled “pozole” as opposed to “posole,” don’t worry, we’re talking about the same thing. The Z is often swapped for an S in the southwestern region of America, but the words are synonymous.
What does change from one posole to the next is the style. And I’m not talking about when the paparazzi yell, “Who are you wearing?”
When it comes to the style, or variations, on posole, color is key. The three main players in this game are red, green, and white.
Red or rojo style leans prominently on dried chilies – such as nutty chiles de arbol – for its spice and bold hue, while green or verde relies on grassy, verdant notes of cilantro, jalapenos, and tangy tomatillos.
Today, we’re whipping up my favorite of the bunch: posole blanco. Though this white version is also known as “plain” posole, the flavors are anything but average.
No matter the form, posole is a quintessential part of many Mexican gatherings. Whether it’s a simple Sunday family get-together or a rowdy holiday party with relatives from all over, serving this soup is as traditional as it is delicious.
The main draw of any posole, at least in my opinion, is its structure.
A fragrant, comforting broth that’s delicately spiced is hard to beat, until you add some additional ingredients for texture that take everything to the next level. Gloriously fatty, painstakingly slow-cooked pork is traditional as the star ingredient, but chicken has become an equally popular protein choice.
And it’s what we’re using today. So scoot over, pork.
You run the show in your own kitchen, of course, but I strongly suggest selecting dark meat over white to mirror the succulence pork typically brings.
Unfamiliar with those pale, oversized kernels bobbing around in the broth? Welcome to the world of hominy.
In short, these nuggets come from corn kernels whose hull and germ have been removed. This process of nixtamalization calls for dried corn to be cooked and steeped in an alkaline solution, which causes them to puff up to twice their size.
Remember Giant Land in “Super Mario Bros. 3” where everything appears enormous? Hominy may look like massive pieces of corn, but they’re far less threatening than colossal turtles or man-eating flowers.
The sweet morsels are earthy and add a lovely chew to every spoonful.
It’s all about the toppings for me, though. Who doesn’t love getting to embellish a dish with their personal favorites? You may have one guest with the “cilantro tastes like soap” gene and another who douses every meal in fistfuls of the fluffy herb, and there’s room for both here.
The colorful collection of garnishes not only looks fun and makes the whole experience of eating more interactive for everyone involved, but I’m a big believer in adding cold, crisp toppings to warm, hearty soup.
The garnish options are endless, and the toppings I went with here are just to get you started. Other suggestions for serving include chopped white onion instead of sliced red, buttery avocado slices, jalapenos, and homemade tortilla chips or warmed tortillas.
I go for a squeeze of double lime juice, an excessive amount of cabbage, and chips on mine.
How will you dress up your posole? It doesn’t need to be red carpet-ready, just fully decked out so it’s ready to be put in a belly.Print
If you love brothy soups with crunchy garnishes, you’ll dig this chicken posole topped with raw red onion, crisp cabbage, and radishes.
- 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, divided, plus more to taste
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
- 1 large white onion, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon chili powder blend
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 15.5-ounce cans white hominy, drained and rinsed
- 1 4-ounce can diced green chilies
- Juice of 1 lime, plus lime wedges for serving
- 2 cups shredded green or purple cabbage, for garnish
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced radishes, for garnish
- 1/4 cut thinly sliced red onion, for garnish
- 1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.
- Place 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepot or Dutch oven. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the chicken and sear until lightly golden on all sides, about 1-2 minutes per side. Transfer the chicken to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the remaining oil to the pot. Add the chopped onion, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Saute until the spices are very fragrant and the onion is translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Pour in the chicken stock, scraping the bottom with a spatula to release any browned bits that are stuck on the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, then return the chicken and any juices it released on the plate to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred the meat, using two forks. Return the meat to the pot and add the hominy and green chilies. Gently simmer on medium-low for 20 minutes, so the flavors can meld.
- Season to taste with additional salt if necessary. Stir in the lime juice.
- Divide the soup among bowls, and serve with the lime wedges, cabbage, radishes, onion, and cilantro. Allow guests to garnish their own.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 50 minutes
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mexican
Keywords: posole, chicken
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Gather, Prep, and Measure Ingredients
Chicken thighs have more fat and impart more flavor and richness into the soup, but if you prefer white meat, boneless skinless chicken breast could be used instead. You could also use a mix of both.
Prep the other garnishes by shredding the cabbage, thinly slicing the radish and red onions, and roughly chopping the cilantro.
Step 2 – Season and Sear Chicken
Season the chicken all over with 1 teaspoon of the salt and the pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large saucepot or a Dutch oven. When the oil shimmers but before it starts smoking, add the chicken and sear it on all sides until lightly golden, for about 1 to 2 minutes per side. Work in batches if necessary, so you don’t crowd the pan.
Transfer the chicken to a rimmed plate.
Step 3 – Saute the Aromatics
Reduce the heat to medium. Heat the remaining oil, and swirl to coat the pan. Add the chopped onion and season it with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt as well as the chili powder, cumin, and oregano.
The fat left in the pan from the chicken, the onion, and the spices will create a very fragrant mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion has softened. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds, keeping an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Step 4 – Add the Liquid and Cook the Chicken
Deglaze the pot with the chicken stock, scraping the bottom as you pour to release anything that’s stuck. Turn the heat up to high, and bring the liquid to a boil.
Return the chicken and any juices that have collected on the plate to the pot.
Lower the heat back down to medium and simmer uncovered, until the chicken is cooked through. This should take about 20 minutes, but you can check by removing one of the larger pieces and using a meat thermometer to make sure that the internal temperature has reached 160°F.
Step 5 – Shred the Chicken, Simmer, and Serve
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board and shred the meat using two forks. Add the shredded chicken and juices from the cutting board back into the pot. Stir in the hominy and green chilies.
Simmer the soup for about 20 more minutes over medium-low heat, so all the flavors can blend together. Season to taste with additional salt if necessary and then stir in the lime juice.
Divide the soup among bowls, and allow each guest to garnish their own portion with their choice of lime wedges, cabbage, radishes, red onion, and cilantro.
The Gift of Garnishes
How did we possibly get through this whole recipe without mentioning hot sauce?
Everyone has their favorite, so feel free to use whatever spicy little number is in your pantry. I dig a vinegary southern-style hot sauce that’s heavy on the tomato.
Speaking of hot, the green chilies we dropped into the broth towards the finish line are not. These canned chilies are mild and simply bring a kick of smokiness without an overwhelming dose of “ouch, my tongue.”
They’re one of the prominent flavors used in classic white Mexican queso dip, which happens to be one of my food obsessions, and I think it would also work nicely as a side to pair with this soup.
What toppings will make your posole perfect? Share your garnishes-of-choice in the comments below! And don’t forget to give this recipe a five-star rating if you loved it.
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Photos by Fanny Slater, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on March 26, 2014. Last updated on April 7, 2022.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Fanny Slater
Fanny Slater is a home-taught food enthusiast based in Wilmington, North Carolina who won the “Rachael Ray Show” Great American Cookbook Competition in 2014, and published her cookbook “Orange, Lavender & Figs” in 2016. Fanny is a food and beverage writer, recipe developer, and social media influencer. She was a co-host on the Food Network series “Kitchen Sink,” was featured on Cooking Channel’s longtime popular series “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” and continues to appear regularly on the “Rachael Ray Show.”