When I think of Mexican soups, pozole always comes to mind. Plumped corn in an onion chile broth is hard to beat. Add to that tostadas, limes, fresh radish and cabbage, and it goes over-the-top good. It’s a celebration food popular all over Mexico and the American Southwest, but pozole has a sordid history. According to the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, the meat in pozole came from ritually sacrificed humans. Once the Spanish arrived, cannibalism just wouldn’t do and pork became the meat of choice. My “meat” of choice is jackfruit and pinto beans, no sacrifices needed! Whenever anyone tells me that my vegan versions of classic dishes aren’t authentic, I put on a wry grin and tell them the story of pozole.
4 cups water
6 cloves garlic, cut in half lengthwise
1 medium-size white onion, diced into 1/4-inch pieces
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 cup dried pozole* or 1 (15-ounce) can of pozole, rinsed, for a quick version
3/4 cup dried pinto beans or 1 (15-ounce) can for a quick version
1 cup shredded jackfruit
3 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed, or 1/4 cup ancho powder for a quick version
*pozole is also called hominy and partially cooked pozole is called nixtamal para pozole
The Condiments (arranged in bowls around the pozle)
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
8 lime wedges
3 radishes, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced cabbage
Tostadas or corn chips
Coarsely ground chiles de arbol
Bring the water to a simmer. Add the garlic, onion, salt, and dried pozole. Slowly simmer for 4 to 5 hours, replenishing the water as needed to keep it at about 6 cups. An hour before the soup is done simmering, add the beans and jackfruit, again replenishing the water as needed to keep it at 6 cups. While the soup is simmering, rehydrate the ancho chiles. Puree the anchos with 1 cup of the soup broth. Press this mix through a fine-meshed sieve for the best texture. Simmer 10 minutes, then serve with all the condiments. The dried oregano should be crushed by rubbing it between hands above the soup bowls.
“You can purchase dried pozole (the corn, not the finished soup) at most Mexican markets and while nearly all of it is a very light yellow color, you can sometimes find it in the beautiful purple shown in the picture.”
Make It Quick
For a quick version of pozole rojo, simmer the water, garlic, onion, salt, and jackfruit for 10 minutes, add the canned pozole, canned beans, and ancho powder, simmer for 5 more minutes, and serve.
Small bowls for the condiments
Optional: Fine-meshed sieve