I made a gallon of this Vegetarian Red Pozole last week and slurped up every single ounce of it 🙂
Pozole is typically simmered with pork, but here I'm making a vegetarian version and it can be just as satisfying when you make a few key adjustments.
It brought me loads of soul-warming meals throughout the week, and I hope it does the same for you!
How To Make Vegetarian Red Pozole
A typical Pork Pozole will have plenty of savoriness from an hours-long simmer with a big chunk of pork shoulder.
So when making a vegetarian Pozole this missing savoriness needs to be addressed! There are a couple ways to do it:
Add some fat to your broth, like a neutral flavored oil.
Or use some really good vegetarian stock, preferably homemade.
I go with the latter as I make this Better Vegetable Stock on a regular basis. It relies on nutritional yeast to inject some of that savory umami flavor to your stock.
It's a a great trick for anyone who leans vegetarian, and I'm thrilled I experimented with it a couple years ago. You can read more about those experiments here, but the takeaway is to just add a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast to your simmering veggie stock for a bump in flavor. What the heck is nutritional yeast?
You'll also need some hominy for your Pozole -- have you used hominy before?
It's nixtamalized, cooked corn and you can find it in the Latin goods aisle, usually sold in bigger 30 oz. cans.
Hominy is the unique ingredient that makes your Pozole an official Pozole, so keep an eye out for some the next time you go to the supermarket. More info on hominy.
To make your Pozole, start by roasting the dried chiles. The chiles are the flavor base for the broth. For this batch I used:
But don't sweat the chile combo too much. You are welcome to use all Anchos if that's what you have available and you'll still get a good result -- I would probably use 7-8 Anchos if that's the case. More info on Ancho chiles.
After de-stemming and de-seeding, give your chiles a couple minutes in the oven (400F) to wake them up. Sure, you can flash roast these in a pan, but I think it's easiest to just plop them in the oven when using this many.
Once roasted you can submerge these chile pieces in the hottest tap water you've got and let them reconstitute for 20 minutes or so. More info on reconstituting dried chiles.
As the chiles reconstitute you can start building the Pozole.
Start by cooking a finely chopped onion in a glug of oil over medium heat.
Once the onion has softened you can add 6 minced garlic cloves.
Let the garlic cook briefly and then add half of this onion-garlic mixture to a blender where it will become part of the chile puree.
Add the following ingredients to the remaining onion-garlic mixture in the pan:
8 cups stock
2 cans hominy (drained and rinsed)
1 tablespoon Mexican oregano What is Mexican oregano?
1/2 teaspoon cumin
pinch of ground clove (optional)
pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Drain the reconstituted chiles and add them to the blender along with 2 cups of stock.
Half of the onion-garlic mixture should already be in the blender.
Combine well and add this chile puree to the soup pot.
One of the great things about Pozole is that the broth is so flavorful that you can add all sorts of additional veggies.
I had some of these carrots that were leftover from making stock so I added them to the pot:
And I also added 1/2 cup of uncooked white rice. You could also consider adding some cooked beans to your Pozole.
Bring this mixture up to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 20-25 minutes.
And be sure to take a final taste for seasoning!
The exact salt level will depend on which stock you're using. The Better Vegetable Stock has very little sodium, so I added 2 heaping teaspoons of salt to this batch -- but please keep in mind that if you're using store-bought stock you probably won't need to add as much salt as I did.
Once you're happy with the flavor you can move on to the creative part....the garnishes!
For this batch I topped with:
thinly sliced cabbage (tossed in some lime juice and a smidge of salt)
freshly chopped cilantro
squeeze of lime
thinly sliced Serrano chiles
And it was off-the-charts delicious 🙂
A final burst of acidity will do wonders for your Pozole so don't skip this final touch!
The lime-coated cabbage did that job quite well for this batch, but you could also get the same effect from a few drops of hot sauce or any pickled veggie.
Other popular garnishes to keep in mind for your Pozole:
The recipe below will make a gallon-sized batch so you'll probably have plenty of leftovers over the coming days!
It's a real treat to warm up some veggie Pozole for a quick meal. And yes, I frequently make crispy, cheesy corn tortillas that are loaded with refried beans and then dip them into the Pozole 🙂
Okay, let me know if you have any questions about making Vegetarian Pozole!
Don't forget that you'll want to address the savoriness to maximize the flavor of your Pozole. You can do that by making some really good Vegetable Stock, or by adding some fat to your Pozole broth.
Vegetarian Red Pozole
- 5-6 Ancho dried chiles
- 5-6 Guajillo dried chiles (or New Mexican)
- 1 small onion
- 6 cloves garlic
- 10 cups stock (2.5 quarts)
- 1-2 cans hominy (approx. 30 oz. cans)
- 1/2 cup rice (optional)
- carrots, cooked beans, other veggies (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- pinch of ground clove (optional)
- pinch of ground cinnamon (optional)
- freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt (plus more to taste)
For the garnish (choose your favorites):
- thinly sliced cabbage (tossed with lime and salt)
- thinly sliced radishes
- avocado slices
- thinly sliced Serrano or Jalapeno chiles
- freshly chopped cilantro
- crispy tortilla strips
- squeeze of lime
- Start by wiping off the dried chiles, then de-stemming and de-seeding them. Give the chile pieces a quick roast in a 400F oven for 1-2 minutes. Add the roasted chile pieces to a bowl, cover them with hot tap water, and let them reconstitute for 20-30 minutes or until you need them.
- Finely chop an onion and add it to a large soup pot along with a glug of oil. Cook the onion over medium heat until softened and then add 6 minced garlic cloves. Briefly cook the garlic. Scoop about half of this onion-garlic mixture into a blender where it will become part of the chile puree, and leave the other half in the soup pot.
- Add 8 cups of stock to the pot along with the drained and rinsed hominy. I used two 30 oz. cans of hominy for this batch and that will make your Pozole a bit more chunky. For a brothier Pozole use just a single can of hominy.
- Before draining the chiles be sure to take a taste of the soaking liquid. If you like the taste then you can use it to make the chile puree. If it tastes bitter to you then discard it and use stock to blend the chiles (that's what I did for this batch). Note: if you like the flavor of the chiles' soaking liquid you are also welcome to use more of it for the Pozole broth in place of stock.
- Drain the chiles and add them to the blender. Half of the onion-garlic mixture should already be in the blender. Add 2 cups of stock and combine well. Add the chile puree to the soup pot. You can optionally strain the chile puree to remove any seeds or bits of skin, but lately I skip this step.
- Add the remaining spices to the soup pot: 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, a pinch of ground clove (optional), a pinch of ground cinnamon (optional), some freshly cracked black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. I also added 1/2 cup uncooked white rice and some diced carrots, but this is optional. Stir well and bring to a boil. Lower heat to maintain a simmer, cover, and let simmer for 20-25 minutes.
- Be sure to take a final taste for seasoning! I added another generous pinch of salt to this batch, but keep in mind that salt level will depend on which stock you're using. I used a low sodium homemade stock and had to add 2 heaping teaspoons of salt to this batch, but if using store-bought stock you won't need to add as much salt as I did.
- Serve immediately with your choice of garnish. I topped with thinly sliced cabbage that was tossed with lime juice and salt, avocado slices, serrano chile slices, and freshly chopped cilantro.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge where it will keep for a few days. To reheat simply add Pozole to a saucepan over medium heat and cook until simmering. If it seems thick when re-heating I will typically add a splash of stock (or water) to thin it out.
Here's the most recent recipe: Charro Bean Tostadas.