Thursday, May 20, 2010

Pork-Free Pozole with Red Beans for No Croutons Required


Legend has it that back in the days of pre-Columbian Mexico, the meat bobbing in a broth of giant lime-slaked kernels of pozole (better known here as hominy) was of, let's just say, a rather intimately known species on the planet. I am neither an anthropologist nor archeologist, but after researching some pozole recipes, the general consensus is that this amazingly flavored soupy stew has more recently been traditionally prepared with pork. Well, a ham hock doesn't have any better appeal to me than leg of Uncle Waldo. In fact, the last time I prepared a pork meal was probably just about the time of the Spanish conquest of Mesoamerica. I did not, however, want to be cheated out of what all the raving pozole fuss was about that I'd been reading over the last few years.

I can now enthusiastically gush with the rest of you. This recipe is the very sloppy, gut-bursting result of too much tinkering over the past two days. A meat-free diet does not necessarily mean you won't have a big mess to clean up in the kitchen (I had so much vegetable debris that I could have sold it by the bale for compost), but it does mean that with some relatively easy engineering, you can eat well without missing out on good flavor and health. And I'm not pulling anyone's leg.

Tomatillos, the sour, pulpy fruit, generally essential to green-based pozole.

Pepitas (roasted, salted pumpkin seeds).

Small Red Beans
Small Red Beans, not to be confused with Asian azuki beans,
are commonly used in Latin and American recipes.

Pork-Free Pozole with Red Beans (My own vegetarian/vegan-convertible recipe adapted from elements among several dozens found online, such as Posole Verde, Pozole, and Authentic Mexican Pozole.)

Serves 4-6.


6 cups salted vegetable broth
1 pound tomatillos, husked, rinsed, and stem cores nicked out with a sharp knife
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas, ground in a food processor to a fine meal
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup dark olive oil
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon dried epazote
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced or pressed
3 2-inch green serrano chile peppers, stems removed, then sliced into coins with seeds intact
3 cups cooked beans (any variety), drained and rinsed of starch residue (I used small red Latin beans for color contrast.)
3 cups cooked pozole, drained (I used canned. Preparing dried pozole takes at least 6 hours to soak, and another 3 hours to cook.)

Garnishes (use any or all of them)

Leaves from 1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups shredded cabbage or romaine lettuce
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
4 cups fried corn tortilla strips (method here) or broken tortilla chips
1/2 cup roasted, salted pepitas
1 small white onion, chopped
1 avocado, peeled and cubed right before serving
2 cups grated cheese, such as Queso Quesadilla, Asadero, Monterey Jack and/or Cheddar (omit if you are vegan)
1 large lime, cut into wedges


In a very large saucepan over medium-low heat, cook tomatillos in broth until they are soft (about 15 minutes). Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a blender container. Carefully secure cover to prevent spattering, and blend to liquefy tomatillos. Return contents to saucepan, then stir in ground pepitas. Reserve on back burner on the very lowest heat, just enough to keep it warm.

In a dry, medium skillet, toast ground cumin briefly on medium-low heat until fragrant (about 20 seconds). Pour in olive oil, then stir in Mexican oregano, epazote, onion, and garlic. Maintain heat, cooking vegetables until golden, translucent, and fragrant (about 12 minutes). Stir in serrano chile coins. Cook another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add vegetable mixture to tomatillo stock. Increase saucepan heat to medium-low and simmer stock for 15 minutes. Stir in beans and pozole. Heat through (about 5 minutes). Divide soup into 4-6 bowls (depending on size), then layer and pile garnishes over top of each. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.

This warm-as-sunshine recipe is going to lovely Lisa, hosting May's Mexican-inspired No Croutons Required, the popular and long-running vegetarian event co-founded by Lisa of Lisa's Kitchen and Jacqueline of Tinned Tomatoes, featuring salad and soups attuned to different monthly themes. Lisa will have the round-up online in a few days, including an opportunity to vote for your favorite recipe.

Been There, Done That ~
Cannellini Bean Chili
Salsa Verde
Black Bean, Tomatillo and Green Olive Salsa

Other People's Eats ~
Red Posole
Vegetarian Pozole
Squash Posole

(Final Note: Thanks to everyone for your well wishes as I recover from dental surgery. Please bear with me while I continue to juggle receipt and compilation of PPN recipes due tomorrow evening for round-up #164, in addition to welcoming your MLLA dishes. If I haven't yet visited your blogs to acknowledge and thank you for your contributions, please know that I'm just a day or two away from doing so. I must say that this month has been especially tormenting: all these gorgeous foods parading in front of my face, and I am relegated to pudding for the last week. You think you want to eat pudding all the time, until you have to. ; D)


  1. wow tht soup..seriously no croutons required...wanna grab tht warm soup bowl..yum...
    hope u r feelong much better now after ur dental surgery..get well soon and thanks for sharing this bful the colors

  2. That pozole looks wonderful! I wish I could fins tomatillos here...



  3. Excellent NCR entry! I can tell this month is going to be an extra delicious round up.

    I had the real (porky) deal back in college once and really loved it. I created a vegetarian version last year, and when I was researching I ran into a lot of different versions, like you did. It is still a mystery to me what rules apply to making posole other than the hominy, and well, pork.. but who needs rules anyway? Your version is breathtaking!

  4. Just gorgeous Susan. Always a treat to have a submission from you. Thank you!

  5. Looks amazing Susan. I love that you have given pics of all ingredients :)

  6. Ouch -- dental surgery. I'd love this version of posole; I'm a meat eater, but not a pork eater. Thanks for the adaptation.

  7. Dental surgery! I just did a little shiver for you. Ick.

    But your pozole, so not ick!!

  8. Hi Susan
    Breathtaking photos, really outstanding work ♥

  9. This doesn't look like any pork is needed. But then, I'm a vegetarian!

    Absolutely breath taking pics. Makes me want to grab it from the screen. Thanks Susan for vegetarianizing this.

  10. This sounds so delicious Susan. You are one busy woman where beans are featured all over the blogosphere this month.

  11. This looks lovely susan! Hope you are doing better after the surgery! take a lot of rest and drink loads of mild soups and liquids.

  12. Sounds delicious and looks yummy... Nice presentation too.. Hope you are doing well after the surgery..

  13. Susan, that looks gorgeous! What a lovely entry :-)

  14. That's an LOL post! Love the pic of the red beans, the last one.

  15. Thanks so much, Sana. I'm feeling much better now. I can actually eat all the stuff in this bowl. : D

    Rosa - Thanks. Tomatillos are unique. Some consider them green tomatoes, but they are different, related to the gooseberry rather than just an unripe tomato.

    Sarah - Thank you. Of course, I am curious how this would taste with pork, (I'm sure it's delish), but I have no plans on going back to meat, even if I wasn't happy with this.

    Lisa - Thanks. I haven't been participating much in NCR, but glad I made it this month.

    Priya - Thank you! There were far more ingredients, but I would have gotten finger cramps shooting them all. : }

    Lydia - The ouch is over. Thanks. The more you adapt recipes the more adept you get at it. It really does seem like my bean dishes taste like they are meaty.

    Pam - Thanks! And thanks!

    Thank you, Ana!

    Hi, A&N! Good to see you! I think we sometimes interpret wants as needs.

    Val - Thank you. Not quite sure why I haven't been dubbed "The Bean Queen" yet, but maybe the moniker's already been taken. ; D

    Thank you, Preeti. I am so much better now. Yes, everything I ate for a week was mush or liquid, but I got through.

    Hi, Nitha! Thanks very much. I'm on the mend. Thanks. : }

    Sunita - Thank you. Good to see you.

    Thanks, Sra. I laughed, too, at my own jokes. How else do you know they are any good? I like the bean pic best, too.

  16. Looks tasty would like to try it some time.

  17. The Noodles is not a modern food item it is eaten from 4000 years ago in China and then it is slowly spread to Northern America and rest of the world. At first Noodles were made only by millets. In Northern America Noodles are made by Wheat & Rice. The communication develops all people made Noodles as per their taste with using items like Wheat, Rice, Millets etc.

  18. Torview - Thank you. : )

    Josph - I think we are all in agreement that noodles are an ancient culinary invention.