Kitchen Therapy: Pozole for the Soul

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If your mom is as sentimental as mine, she gave you a copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul at some point in your life. Mine was Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul: 101 Stories of Life, Love and Learning, and I got it on Christmas when I was in high school. Honestly, I didn’t read a word of it ‘cause I was too busy getting high. (Sorry, Mom.) Now, here I am older and wiser, searching for the copy on my shelves, and writing my own version of it. I’m a firm believer in the healing aspects of food, so I’ve become passionate about cooking recipes passed down from my mom and grandma and using vegetables straight from the garden. Cooking is my form of therapy and helps me wind down after the 9-6 grind.

I’m slowly perfecting tortillas a mano and fresh chile salsa, and trying to make a habit of always having a pot of beans on the stove; I like to put prepare them them with chorizo a couple days after they’ve sat in the fridge and make tostadas. My latest culinary feat is pozole, which is super easy to make and very healthy. Before I break down down how to make this menudo alternative, here’s a bit of history:

Pozole is a pre-Colombian soup that originated from the Nahuatl word potzolli, which means foamy. According to Mexican scholars, the meat used in pozole was originally sacrificed humans, but after the Spanish conquest, cannibalism was banned and pork became the meat of choice. The ingredients of pozole may have changed, but the staple remaina the same: corn. Since corn was sacred to Aztecs and other inhabitants of Mesoamerica, pozole was traditionally eaten on special occasions. What better time to make pozole than a cold winter night? Here’s how.


  • Whole chicken, washed, gutted, and cut into fours
  • Small onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4-5 garlic cloves (depending on how much you love garclic)
  • 5-6 tbsp. salt (gradually add while tasting to avoid over salting)
  • Pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • Large can hominy, drained (I like Juanita’s, but if I was really hardcore, I would dry and soak my own maize.)
  • Radishes, sliced
  • Cabbage, chopped
  • Lemons, sliced
  • Cilantro, chopped
  • Salsa
  • Tortillas
  • Queso Fresco

1. In a large pot (I use Martha Stewart’s cast iron dutch oven ‘cause I’m fancy like that), boil enough water to cover a whole chicken with about 2 tbsp. salt to start, chopped onion, dash of oregano, and about 4-5 garlic cloves.

2. When water starts to boil, add the chicken and cook uncovered at medium heat for about an hour. Stir occasionally.

3. When chicken is cooked, carefully remove it with tongs and place in a glass bowl; let cool until it can be handled. Meanwhile, discard most of the garlic (I leave 2-3 cloves in), and most of the onion from pot. Salt and pepper the broth to taste and let simmer.

4. When chicken has cooled, tear into pieces and place in the pot. Discard bones. Add hominy.

5. When soup is salted to taste, ladle into bowls and top with cabbage, radishes, cilantro, squeeze of lemon, and salsa.

6. Enjoy with tortillas and queso fresco.

Have your own way? Share your version below.