Saturday, September 18, 2010

Vegetarian Posole

I love posole.  The thick rich spicy soup broth, the hominy (nixtamal in Spanish, or technically Nahuatl), and of course the additions.  Cilantro, shredded cabbage, radish, avocado, lime juice, baked tortilla strips, and on and on.  The beautiful thing about the stock is the introduction of ancho chiles (dried poblanos) that are reconstituted and pureed in the blender.  It makes for a complex and spicy broth.  Of course posole normally has pork or in some cases chicken and so the broths are normally a little heartier.  I honestly thought it would be impossible to make a vegetarian version but this comes so close to the real thing I can't say I missed the meat at all.  I can't say how happy I was that this worked. 

In place of chicken, I used dried shitake mushrooms.  They take a while to soften so if they only sit for a couple of hours in the soup, they'll still be a little chewy (which I was okay with because it reminded me of posole's cousin 'menudo', but for reasons I won't get into).  By the second day they were much softer and oh so good.  The broth was hearty and spicy and everything was perfectly balanced. 

This recipe is for the Souper Sunday blog hop hosted by Kahakai Kitchen.  Soup... what a great theme.  I'm relatively new to making posole so I got my help from girlichef, an excellent blogging chef for all things Mexican (and otherwise) and Bobby Flay.  See their recipes here and here.  I like girlichef's addition of tomatoes and onion to the blender with the anchos and then cooking them on the stove.  It's definitely my new method - I just added a little oregano to the mix because it's one of my favorite flavors in Mexican cooking.

For the base, start with three ancho chiles.  Put them in a small bowl (put small cuts in the chiles so they don't float) and cover them with boiling water.  After twenty minutes, remove chiles from water (saving the water) and pull the stems out.  I like to save a few seeds for the heat.  Place chiles in a blender with 1/2 cup of the reserved chile water and the following items:
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
3 garlic cloves, smashed
2 t. fresh oregano leaves

Blend for a couple of minutes, pausing to scrape sides of the blender down with a rubber spatula.  Heat one tablespoon oil in large soup pot and add chile puree.  Cook for about 10 minutes, letting mixture thicken.  Add six cups of vegetable broth and heat through, bringing to a boil.  Add:

1 28-ounce can of hominy (don't drain, include all the liquid in the can)
2 cups (loosely packed) of dried shitake mushrooms. 

Simmer for about 20 minutes and add two tablespoons of chopped cilantro.  Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes or so.  Garnish with any (or all!) of the following.

Freshly chopped cilantro, green onions
Quartered lime wedges
Chopped or grated radishes
Shredded cabbage
Dried oregano
Avocado slices

Enjoy!  I'm going to be making this again and again!


  1. Sounds amazing, José. I'll be giving it a go soon and I'll let you know how it comes out.

  2. Thanks Ben, I think you'll like it. Definitely let me know how it goes. I think the vegetable broth with pureed potato really helped the texture of the broth.

  3. I would have never thought to put mushrooms in posole...but I can just imagine their meatiness...and how perfect it would be. I love your version, it sounds delicious! And thanks so much for the awesome shout-out =)

  4. With the blissful approach of fall, I'll be making this very soon. I'll even use your broth despite having the much easier Maggi veg broth cubes on hand. I'm sure the texture of the potato in the broth will make it worth while.

  5. This is one gorgeous bowl of soup. I love that you were able to make it vegetarian so successfully. Mushrooms are a genius idea! Thanks for sending it to Souper Sundays too--hope to have you back! ;-)



  6. This sounds so tasty! Avocado, lime, cabbage, cilantro, etc. etc. all ingredients I love.

  7. You could work as a food photographer! This sounds and looks delicious and I have never heard of this recipe, but will have to try it soon!

  8. This is just GORGEOUS! I have to make this soon! Jose, I'm so glad that you have this blog. I will be following (and cooking!!!). Avocado and lime are the best foods on the planet. That is a fact. And that you made this vegetarian is fabulous. Win!

  9. This looks and sounds delicious! Happy New Years!

  10. Made it as my New Year's Eve dish with Cat. All in all, I really enjoyed the very layered and rich soup. I'm normally a bit squeamish about mushrooms, but the dried shitake I bought were great, and held up in the soup well, retaining some of their oaky flavor. I'm not sure I've ever eaten hominy in my life, so that was the most adventurous part for me, and I really enjoyed it (I don't like including can juice, but I was dutifully following your recipe to the T).

    My one criticism is that I don't think the stock, even with the addition of bouillon cubes, justifies making the stock from scratch. I don't think it added more than what a dry or pre-made veg stock would have. This was a bummer, because putting the effort in on the stock to make the soup kinda makes this like preparing two soups... but I guess I'm just whining.

    Great dish, hands down. I'll make it again before the winter's up, but with dry stock cubes. Thanks, José!

  11. Great dish! Totally hit the spot this weekend. I used fresh shiitakes (doubled amount since they weren't reconstituting and sautéed in a bit of olive oil). Thank you!

  12. This sounds really good...I like the procedure for starting the soup base, I'll use a brand name pre-made vegetable stock. My problem though, is that I hate shiitake mushrooms...which is weird for me because I generally love mushrooms, fresh or dried. I just don't like the flavor of shiitakes. Maybe a different mushroom will work or a combination, like some dried morels or porcini for flavor and some cremini for texture. Anyway...nice recipe! Sounds like a good dish for a November night at the beach!

  13. This looks very good, and I hope to try it soon. I have a Dried Mushroom Blend we got at a closeout at Costco that ought to work very well.

    I would prefer to use the prepared hominy in bags that we see here in the refrigerator cases in Mexico, rather than canned.

    Don Cuevas


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