This space will (hopefully!) be a way to share the food I love to make with others. I aspire to take vegetarianism down off of its scary, often negatively mythologized mantle and make it more fun, real, and approachable.
So what is this pozole thing exactly? Pozole is a name for this traditional Mexican soup, as well as its star ingredient: hominy, which is another word for corn that has been treated with an alkali (nixtamalization). “Wooaaah,” you may be thinking. “Chemicals? Alkaline stuff up in my soup? No, thank you”. But, fear not- this process has been used since the 1500s by peoples in Mexico and Central America. In fact, you have most likely been consuming this nixmatalized corn for awhile, without even knowing it. This is the corn that is used to make grits, tortillas and tamales, and if you have ever made a recipe calling for masa, this would be what you would purchase, in a ground form, of course.
Alkalization allows the corn to actually become more nutritious, by paving the way for the niacin (vitamin B3) found within the kernels to be absorbed by our digestive tract. Pre-treatment, the niacin is bound to a large molecule which prevents it from being absorbed; the nixtamalization strips it of this cumbersome molecule, allowing our digestive system to soak it up. Thank you to this awesome website for much of the above nixtamalization info.
In this recipe, I use canned hominy, which you can find near other Mexican / Latin American products in your grocery store. However, if you are feeling bold, you can also use dried hominy, such as that peddled by the wondrous Rancho Gordo – you’ll just need to simmer it in water for a bit before adding it to this recipe.
There are three types of pozole one could make: rojo, verde, or blanco. The rojo kind gets it namesake from the puree of dried chili peppers added to the broth, whereas the verde is named for a green puree stirred in. The white has no additional sauce. Why do I say “green puree”, and not name the specific ingredients? Well, because it can vary greatly between recipes. However, I can tell you what my mouth-watering recipe has: a puree of tomatillos (our green tomato friends dressed in lovely, willowly husks), spinach, green chilis, pumpkin seeds, and cilantro. Lots of cilantro. If you, or anyone you are serving this to does not like cilantro, go with a rojo. However, I couldn’t resist making the verde version with all of the abundant summer produce at our fingertips.
Another fun thing about pozole is that you personalize it with a bunch of fun toppings. And who doesn’t love customizing everything these days? I dressed it up with some shredded green cabbage for a nice crunch, more cilantro (I’m an addict, what can I say?), chunks of creamy avocado, and a squirt of lime juice. The lime is essential. Just do it. Other ideas for topping it off are layering on some zesty radish slices, spicy jalapeños, roasted and salted pumpkin seeds, fresh oregano, or tortilla chips. I also think goat cheese crumbles would be excellent on this, for a bit of sweet saltiness. I had a bowl with feta, and thought it was a bit too sharp for this soup. Another topping which I am a huge fan of is pumpkinseed butter (unpictured). I plopped a big spoonful in many of the bowls I ate this past week, and it was close-your-eyes-and-sigh heavenly. I am a realist, though, and know that most of you do not have a jar of pumpkinseed butter laying around. So, if you are looking for this effect, you might try doubling the amount of pumpkinseeds blended up in the green sauce.
- 1.5 tsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, sliced thinly lengthwise
- 1 large zucchini (or 2 small) diced into 1 inch chunks
- 1/2 bunch cilantro (or about 2 cups)
- 1 cup spinach
- 1 tsp of minced Thai chili peppers, or 1/2 jalapeño
- 3/4 lb tomatillos, halved
- 1/4 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 15oz cans of hominy
- 2 cups cooked kidney beans (or 1.5 cans)
- Shredded green cabbage
- Lime wedges
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add in the onion and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Then add in the zucchini and cook for 5-7 minutes.
- While the stove-top mixture is cooking, make the green sauce. Add the cilantro, spinach, chili pepper, tomatillos, and pepitas to a blender with a dash of water. Blend. Add more water if needed, just enough for everything to puree.
- Add the minced garlic to the pot on the stove, as well as the dried oregano. Saute for a 2-3 minutes. Pour in the vegetable broth, hominy, kidney beans and green sauce. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook, covered, for 45 minutes, or until the zucchini is cooked through. Add salt to taste.
- Serve, steaming hot, topped with garnishes of choice. (However, I insist the lime wedge make an appearance!)
Please let me know if you try it out!