March 8, 2012

Low-Sodium Corn Poblano Posole

When thinking about making posole, two things may seem to pose a challenge: time and the hominy.

Now the whole “time” thing really isn’t much of an issue.

While this recipe may seem complicated, it really just involves sticking things (peppers, chicken, soup) in pots and pans and letting them heat and cook. There’s no risotto-like ball-and-chain action here. Once you plop those ingredients in your cooking decive, you can seriously let them do their thing. On their own. While you do yours.

So as for time? We’ve got that one covered.

But hominy. That’s a challenge of a different color. Because hominy is by definition dried maize (corn) treated with an alkali solution — i.e. salt. And no matter how hard I tried to look for a brand that uses another, lower sodium process, I haven’t found one yet. Which doesn’t mean it’s not possible, but we might just have to be patient.

In the meantime, roasted corn (fresh or frozen) makes a wonderful stand-in. And by giving it a crunchy texture in the oven, it will has a pop that is similar to the original.

So hominy? You’ve been salt-free’d as well.

From there, to bump up the flavor, use that oven we talked about on Tuesday. Roasting your peppers is a great way to add smoky and sweet notes to this savory soup. And if you can handle a bit of potassium, feel free to throw some tomatillos under the broiler as well. They are just luscious! And while protein is not necessary for this posole to taste good, a small amount of poached and shredded chicken will go a long way.

For color and more crisp, cabbage, lime, baby bell peppers, and toasted tortilla strips top off the dish. And that’s it. A hearty, low-sodium and low-potassium southwestern soup, perfect for the winter. Or spring. That you can easily adjust to your taste buds and dietary needs.

Just make sure to make a lot of it. Because you’ll want to share this with others. And you’ll definitely want seconds. Or to even freeze leftovers. So don’t get caught licking the pot.

Chow on.


adapted from dymnyno’s Green Chili, Chicken, Posole Soup recipe on


  • 4 green Poblano chili peppers, top cut off and seeded
  • 4 tomatillos, leaves removed and cleaned (optional — and if you are not using, double poblanos)
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, top cut off and seeded
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen (or fresh) corn
  • Olive or vegetable oil
  • 2 chicken breasts (unless you’re making it vegetarian!)
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch of cumin
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock (or even just water)
  • 1/2 head of Napa cabbage, shredded
  • 2 low-sodium corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • Handful of baby bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Hold Up! Let’s talk about the broth. Before starting anything else, make sure you have some salt-free broth on the stove. If you have leftover chicken bones (or you bought bone-in chicken and removed the bones), then simply add 6 cups of water, let it come to a fierce boil and then lower to a simmer for an hour or more. If you want an even simpler solution, just add some peeled garlic cloves and herbs to a pot with the 6 cups of water and again, bring to a boil, simmer, and stew for 45 minutes. Or for the easiest option of all, just add the 6 cups of water to the dish directly when the recipe calls for it. Phew. Now on to this kicking posole.

To start, let’s get those peppers and tomatillos broiling. Turn the oven to broil on high. Place your seeded Poblano and jalapeno peppers and tomatillos in an oven pan and rub them real good with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil. I like using my hands, but be sure to wash them well since you’re handling those hot jalapenos.

Place the peppers and tomatillos on a rack close to the broiler flame — you’re looking to char the skins, about 5 minutes. Once one side has charred, use tongs to carefully turn the peppers and tomatillos a 1/4 rotation and place back under the broiler for another 5 minutes. Repeat until all sides are nice and black.

Take them out of the oven and place them in a paper bag and close the top (or in a bowl covered in foil) and let them rest and steam, at least 15 minutes. Then, when cool enough to handle, slip the outer charred skins right off and set aside.

Meanwhile, turn the broiler off and turn the oven to 375dg F. Carefully (because that pan is HOT) put the corn into the pan along with a tablespoon of oil. With an oven glove or a spoon, shake and spread that oil around. And when oven temp is ready, put the corn in to roast and lightly brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Set a timer so you don’t forget about these guys!

And here’s a photo break to rest your eyes.

Now back to the soup.

As the corn roasts, fill a medium sized pot 3/4 of the way with water. Cover with a top and bring water to a boil over high heat. When the bubbles are rolling, add the chicken. This is called poaching — which also means “really easy way to make totally succulent shredded chicken breast.” Feel free to experiment by adding a little vinegar, orange juice, or even beer to the poaching liquid for an extra flavor boast. When the chicken is cooked through — about 15 minutes — remove it from the water and set aside in a bowl. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then use two forks to expertly pull that breast apart.

Remember to take out that corn!

Now, in a large pot, heat 1 tablespoon of olive or vegetable oil over medium flame. When sizzling, add the onions and garlic, black peppercorns and coriander seed. Cook until onions and garlic have softened and your kitchen smells amazing.

In a blender (or with an immersion blender directly in the pot), place the peppers, tomatillos, half of the roasted corn, the cooked garlic, onion, black peppercorn, and coriander mixture, the smoked paprika, cumin, and 4 cups of the stock. Blend until smooth and pour back into the pot (if you used a blender).

Add the remaining corn and the shredded chicken and the last 2 cups of the stock and simmer for  an hour. If the soup gets too thick, add some more water.

And if you haven’t done so yet, this is a great time to shred your Napa cabbage; toast those tortilla strips in a hot nonstick skillet (no oil necessary) for 10 minutes to pure crispiness; slice your baby bell peppers; and cut your lime into wedges.

To serve, ladle into soup bowls, put a small mound of cabbage, some baby bell peppers, and the toasted tortilla strips on top. Serve with a wedge of fresh lime. Squeeze. Dig in.

+ Sodium Count:  Poblano pepper: 7mg per pepper; Frozen corn: 0mg depending on brand; Fresh corn: 11mg per 1/2 cup; Frozen corn: 0mg depending on brand; Chicken breast (with skin): 71mg per 1/4 pound; Cabbage (general variety): 13mg per cup shredded; Red bell peppers: 5mg sodium per medium pepper

Jennifer October 21, 2012 at 5:58 pm

This was amazing! My husband and I loved it! We are trying to do low sodium for him medically, and it was healthy yet tasty! I used the myfitnesspal ap to calculate calories and it came up to under 100 calories per one cup serving of the chowder……DELicious! Will be in or recipe book for sure!

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