This post may contain affiliate links. See full disclosure here.I‘m not entirely sure when the recipe for chicken posole hit my rotation, although I can recall it being a New Years day tradition for the past few years. This hearty Mexican soup is Aztec in origin with a quite, well, disgusting history, which can be explored into detail in what’s known as the Florentine Codex: General History of the Things of New Spain by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún, written around 1529.
Historically, posole was a byproduct of a sacrificial offering
In that text, he describes a ceremonial stew consisting of corn, a sacred plant to Aztecs and the other indigenous people of Mesoamerica, and human flesh being consumed. The human flesh was a byproduct of human sacrifice, where the heart of the sacrificial subject was removed and offered to their gods and the bodies chopped up and served as the protein of choice in this special stew. The Spanish quickly put an end to that practice by banning cannibalism shortly after their arrival, after which pork was made the meat of choice. Pork was allegedly chosen because it tasted the most similar to human flesh. Um…ew? Thank goodness my recipe is kosher, amirite?
Don’t let that little historical tidbit turn you off, however (Wait, where is everybody??!), as this soup is quite delicious–it’s thick and hearty, with complex flavors that warm and comfort. It’s still served traditionally as a festive food, but no longer with the same historical significance of years past.
So the history doesn’t turn me off of chicken posole and I hope it doesn’t turn you off either because I am certain you will love the flavor explosion of the roasted chilies, tomato, garlic, and onion married with the fresh accompaniments of radish, cilantro, and lime. Modern tradition would call for cheese or crema to accompany chicken posole–which you could do and stay kosher if you chose to omit the meat–but since we are including chicken here, we’ll leave out the dairy.
You have two options: you can make a homemade chile sauce as I did this year, or you can buy your favorite red enchilada sauce. Neither option is truly better than the other, as it all comes down to whether you want to have a) more control over the sauce or b) convenience. For the sake of this post, I decided to make the sauce from scratch, but honestly I usually just buy the sauce…I’m lazy.
Happy New Years! Do you bother with resolutions or are you a realist like we are?