Warm Up with My Healthy Crock-Pot Chicken Posole Soup
In winter I crave fuzzy sweaters and soup around the clock. One quick look at my recipes page and it’s clear soup is made in our house often, it never seems like too much trouble to tend to a bubble pot of something delicious on the stove a couple evenings a week. But sometimes I’m alone on a week night, Stu’s traveling, and I don’t feel like cooking something for just me. Big salads are a staple, but usually cold stuff doesn’t cut it when the evenings are freezing cold. I do my best to plan ahead for these moments of cooking for one, which is why the pantry is always stocked for my “Dad’s Travelin” Crock-Pot Chicken Posole soup.
If posole is on a menu at an authentic (AKA divey) Mexican restaurant, I order it. Taking one bite reminds me of how much I love hominy yet never cook with it. The best is when a plate of toppings is served next to the big bowl of soup; limes, cilantro, radishes, avocado, shredded cabbage. With just the right about of spice to clear winter sinuses without making my ears smoke, posole is like food for the soul.
Yet it never occurred to me to make Posole at home.
So when the new year hit and my gluttony over the holidays was starting to catch up with me, I rooted around for some new healthy recipes and found one for crock-pot posole. It looked incredibly easy and really flavorful. Problem was, I couldn’t find half the ingredients the recipe called for. Does your grocery store typically stock diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers? My beloved Schnucks on the Hill does not. So I came up with substitutes for that and a few other things, mussed with the spices (no recipe ever calls for enough cumin!), gathered some toppings (which were totally absent from the recipe, a travesty I tell you) and created what’s become a weekly staple in our house.
I can throw everything in my cock-pot before we leave for school drop-off—very little chopping is involved—so the house is filled with delicious smells all day. Once the teeth have been brushed, stories are read, songs are sung, and kids are tucked in for the night, all I have to do is prep some toppings and dig in.
No work, just heart-warming goodness.
So for the recipe, I call for a chipotle chili and a little adobo sauce. This adds quite a bit of heat, so beware, but I find that after the soup has cooked all day and I’ve put some toppings on it, the heat is just right. Also, since you can only buy chipotle chilis in a can of about 12, I use one for the soup, then portion the rest out in an ice cube tray, one chili and a little sauce per cube, and stick it in the freezer. Once frozen, I pop them into a zip lock back for future use. One can of chilis lasts me forever.
You may notice one weird ingredient in my recipe below, the frozen chopped onions. I use them because I don’t like the flavor of fresh onions boiled in a crock pot. If you can’t find the frozen (it took me a while, I’ve never bought them before) go ahead and chop fresh. But take it from me frozen onions turned out to be kind of a revelation because who wants to chop onions at 8am? These can just be thrown in with everything else, no chopping involved. I’ve used them in several other crock-pot recipes and they work great.
Healthy Chicken Crock-Pot Posole
adapted from weightwatchers.com
1 lb Chicken thigh(s), boneless skinless, cut into bite-size pieces
1 clove Garlic clove, minced
3 cups fat free, low sodium chicken broth
1 cup frozen chopped onions OR pepper, onion and celery mix (both in frozen section)
14 1/2 oz can hominy, drained
4 oz can chopped green chilis
14 1/2 oz Fire roasted diced tomatoes, canned
1 chipotle pepper with a little adobo sauce (optional…this makes it kick!)
2 tsp ground cumin (less if you aren’t a big cumin fan)
2 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp fresh black pepper
1 tsp kosher salt (or to taste)
Lime, cut into wedges
tortilla chips (my fav are the Tostitos Multigrain Scoops!)
Throw all the posole ingredients into the crock pot and cook on high for 4-5 hours or low for 6-8. I stir mine a couple times throughout the day (though not necessary) and taste for seasoning. Add more chicken stock if you like yours with more broth. Serve in big bowls with toppings on the side so everyone can create their own perfect meal.
Without toppings, this comes out to about 245 calories per serving. Pretty incredible, especially when it’s a really filling and satisfying dinner. I usually pack on a few extra calories with a half an avocado, diced, on top and a couple handfuls of chips.
I won’t sit here and tell you my kids eat this, because I honestly haven’t tried. Ethan tends to be sensitive about spicy foods and usually voices his opinion in front of Finn, who then does whatever big brother is doing, in this case stops eating the food I’ve made for them. Therefore I make this for Stu and I or just myself and let the leftovers meld in the fridge so they taste even better the next day.
It’s the perfect plan over meal.