Vegan Pozole

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Traditional Mexican pozole is rich, meaty, and full of flavor. I absolutely love it. This pozole skips the meat, but is still full of flavor. Toasted chilies and cabbage are pureed into the broth for viscosity and depth. I added beans for protein. Hominy is full of a deep corn flavor, and provides a deliciously chewy texture.

Here is a very informative post by Mely Martínez of Mexico in My Kitchen, which includes a traditional pozole recipe. Check out her blog for hundreds of traditional Mexican recipes. She also has a beautiful book called The Mexican Home Kitchen. I hope to make some recipes from that book soon.

There is a lot of room for flexibility in this recipe. Use canned beans if it is easier. Don’t have dried chillies? Use chili powder. The flavor won’t quite be the same as toasted chillies, but it will still be tasty. For all the changes that can be made, there is one that should not. Please do not attempt to use canned hominy in place of the dried.

Hominy is very much the star in this vegan version of pozole. It has an aroma that cannot be beat, and gives so much flavor to the broth. My house always smells amazing when I’m cooking the hominy, even before the rest of the soup begins. I learned recently from The Cooking Gene by Micheal Twitty that we are able to get more nutrition out of hominy than regular corn because of the nixtamalization process. If you haven’t had hominy prepared from the dried state before, you are in for a treat.

Cooking hominy is very easy, but takes a little time. You soak it overnight like dried beans. It is not recommended to eat the hominy cooking liquid, so just drain and discard. Follow the directions for your particular hominy, but I usually cook mine for about an hour and a half before adding it to the soup, where it then is cooked a bit longer.

My favorite beans for this are Ayocate Morados from Rancho Gordo. They are large and meaty, and beautiful in this broth. I am currently out of them so I used Ayocate Blancos for this batch. They don’t have the same purply hue, but they taste the same. I cook my beans for this soup with oil, garlic, Mexican oregano, and crushed pepper flake. If you substitute canned beans for this recipe you will want to add a little extra oil to your soup.

Vegan Pozole (Serves 8)

  • 1 lb dried hominy
  • 4 dried Guajillo chilies
  • 2 dried pasilla chilies
  • 4 dried arbol chilies
  • 2 T avocado or olive oil or more if using canned beans
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, cut into 1-2 inch pieces, plus more thinly sliced for serving
  • 2 yellow onions or 1 white onion, roughly chopped, about 2 cups
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 T dried Mexican oregano
  • 3 cups drained cooked beans (or 2-3 cans drained and rinsed beans)
  • 2.5-3 quarts water, vegetable stock or bean broth
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Juice of 1-2 limes, plus more for serving

Suggested accompaniments:

  • Tostadas, corn tortillas or tortilla chips
  • Lime wedge
  • Thinly sliced cabbage
  • Thinly sliced radish
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Diced white onion
  • Dried oregano
  • Sliced jalapeño
  • Hot sauce or chili oil
  • Avocado
  1. Soak hominy overnight or for 8 hours. Cook according to package directions. Drain and discard cooking liquid.
  2. Toast chilies until lightly blackened in a skillet or sauté pan over medium-low heat.
  3. Preheat large soup pot over medium heat. Add oil.
  4. Add cabbage and cook until it starts to sweat. Add the onion and garlic and sweat the vegetables. Season with salt.
  5. Remove the stems from the chilies, and add them to the vegetables. To make it less spicy, you can also discard the seeds from the chilies. Cover with 1 quart of water/stock or bean broth.
  6. Simmer for about fifteen minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree the vegetables and chilies. Alternatively this can be done in batches in a blender. Just be sure to start on slow and gradually increase the speed. It does not have to be perfectly smooth. See note below if you’d like a chunkier soup.
  7. Add the cooked hominy, beans, and dried oregano. Add an additional 1.5 quarts water/stock/broth. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for a half hour to an hour, until hominy is the desired doneness and flavors meld. Add more liquid if necessary.
  8. Finish with lime. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. The soup will be brothy to start, but it will thicken as it sits. Reheat leftovers with a little extra liquid.

Notes:

  • For a chunkier soup, cut the cabbage into thin bite-sized pieces and small dice the onion. Blend the toasted chilies in 2 cups of water on the side, and add that to the vegetables with the remaining liquid and oregano and simmer like normal. You can also puree the onion and garlic with the chilies if desired. I’ve made this with chunky cabbage a couple times and I really like it both ways.
  • You can use a different blend of chilies or add a little more or a little less to your spice tolerance. Guajillos and pasillas have a fruity sweetness to them. Guajillos are more mild than pssillas. Arbol chilies are spicier. If you’re using chili powder, I would start with 1/4 cup and add from there to taste.
This soup broth is less opaque and a deeper red when the cabbage is not pureed.

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