CAUTION: This soup is hot! If you don’t like spicy food, better skip this one.
I couldn’t spend the summer in New Mexico without learning to make traditional New Mexican Posole Stew. Traditionally it’s made with pork, but I don’t eat meat or dairy so I created a vegan version. I used soy curls instead of pork, but my husband hates soy curls (he’s picky, he doesn’t like anything) so for him I used garbanzo beans instead and received rave reviews.
The two essential components of Posole are chile sauce made from rehydrated (or fresh roasted) Mexican chile peppers and whole hominy, which is corn that has been dried and treated with alkali. In my program hominy is counted as a starchy vegetable and 2 oz dried (or 6 oz hydrated) equals 1 vegetable serving.
When I first started looking into how to make my own Posole, I was intimidated by making my own chile sauce and tried really hard to get away with using a canned or jarred version. But after looking at recipe after recipe, it became very clear that nobody does that. I didn’t roast my own fresh chiles (which is the truly authentic thing to do) but I used dried chiles which is an easy and common shortcut. I started with the dried chiles, soaked them in boiling water for 30 minutes, added garlic and salt, and blended it in a blender into a thick sauce. Easy! You really can’t skip this part, this is where all of the flavors come from in this soup.
The only specialty ingredients needed to make Posole are whole hominy (dried or canned) and two types of dried chiles, ancho and chiles de arbol. Both of these are easy to find in any ethnic foods section of a grocery store or any Mexican market.
A Note on Measuring Soups:
My strategy for making soups is to prepare and weigh each of the components separately, decide how many servings I am setting out to make, add everything together to simmer, and then evenly distribute the finished soup into that many Tupperware containers. The ratios won’t be 100% perfect in each bowl, but they will be pretty darn close.
Plant-Powered Posole (New Mexican Stew)
Each Serving Contains:
- 1 Veggie Serving
- 1 Protein Serving
- 1 Fat Serving (optional as a garnish)
- 1 white onion, chopped (1/2 veggie serving)
- 1/2 small head of green cabbage, chopped (1/2 veggie serving)
- 6 oz dried hominy (soaked overnight and then boiled for about 1 hour) or 18 oz cooked or canned hominy (3 veggie servings)
- 4 servings soy curls (16 oz hydrated, about 7-8 oz dry)
- OR 24 oz garbanzo beans or red kidney beans (about 3 small cans)
- Avocado as a garnish
Condiments & Spices
- 1/2 cup (or a small handful) dried chiles de arbol
- 4 or 5 dried ancho chiles
- 6 cloves garlic (2 smashed for the chile sauce, 4 finely chopped)
- Kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- Sliced radishes, diced onion, and fresh cilantro, for garnish
- 8 cups veggie broth
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
- 1 bay leaf
- Grain Additions: Potatoes! I roasted a large pan of diced potatoes (without oil) until they were mostly but not completely cooked, weighed them, added them to the soup, and simmered them for the last 10 minutes or so of cooking.
- Protein Additions: Add more beans or soy curls.
- Fat Additions: Use oil in the initial sautéing, or add more avocado.
- If using dehydrated hominy, soak it in a pot of water at room temperature overnight, and boil it for about an hour prior to making this recipe. I learned the hard way that it takes quite a long time for dried hominy to rehydrate fully, thus the headstart.
- With gloves or bags over your hands, break the stems off the chiles de arbol and ancho chiles, break them apart, and shake out as many seeds as possible.
- Put the chiles in a bowl and cover with boiling water; weigh down the chiles with a plate to keep them submerged and soak until soft, about 30 minutes.
- If using soy curls, begin to hydrate them by soaking them in a large bowl of water for 15 minutes or so.
- Transfer the chiles and 1 1/2 cups of the soaking liquid to a blender. Add the 2 cloves smashed garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth.
- Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a Dutch oven or pot over medium heat.
- Add the onion, chopped garlic, cumin, and protein (soy curls or beans) and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
- Stir in the veggie broth, oregano, bay leaf, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of the chile sauce (depending on your taste).
- Bring to a low boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
- Stir in the hominy and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes to an hour.
- If making a grain with this meal, begin to roast some chopped potatoes in the oven at 350, weigh, and add them into the soup for the last 10 minutes or so of simmering.
- Add more water or broth if the posole is too thick.
- Season with salt. Garnish with avocado, sliced radishes, chopped cilantro, and a sprinkle of shredded cabbage.
Making the chile sauce by seeding the dried peppers, soaking them, and blending them.