Hominy, dried corn kernels, gives this warm and comforting soup an authentic Mexican taste (though you can substitute fresh corn kernels instead) and it's served with a mix of garnishes so you can top it any way you like.
1 chicken, about 3 to 3 1/2 pounds
2 garlic cloves
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup canned hominy, drained and rinsed
1 carrot, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 tsp. cumin, or to taste
1/4 tsp. ancho chili powder, or to taste
Pinch dried oregano
Garnishes for Soup
1/2 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
10 radishes, thinly sliced
1 onion, finely diced
2 limes, cut into quarters
Handful coriander leaves
2 handfuls fried tortilla strips
1 ripe avocado, diced
In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, add chicken, garlic and 1/2 whole onion. Add enough water to immerse the chicken. Season the water with salt and pepper. Cover. Bring slowly to a boil, skimming any foam. Reduce heat and simmer until chicken is just cooked through and no longer pink, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.
Remove chicken from broth and set aside. Remove and discard onion. Remove garlic cloves, mash with a fork, and then add back to broth.
Add hominy, carrot, celery, 1/2 chopped onion, cumin, ancho chili powder and oregano to broth. Bring broth to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook soup until hominy is tender and soft, about 40 to 45 minutes.
While the soup is cooking, remove chicken meat from bones. Shred or chop into smaller pieces. Add chicken to broth and let heat through, about 10 minutes. Taste broth and adjust seasoning.
At the table, serve soup with a variety of garnishes, such as shredded iceberg lettuce, thinly sliced radishes, finely diced onion, lime wedges, diced avocado and fried tortilla strips.
Yield: 6 servings.