The Scoop on Posole
Posole, a hearty main-dish soup, might be considered one of Mexico’s national dishes and is typically made with pork, hominy, red or green chiles, garlic, and oregano. The soup contains few vegetables but relies on vegetable add-ins served on the side.
To turn this fatty, cholesterol-laden soup into a healthy, colorful, and inviting main dish, I’ve done a complete makeover by removing the cholesterol and lowering the calorie content. I’ve eliminated the pork and vegetable oil traditionally used for sautéing onions. Instead, I boost the nutritional value with lots of vegetables, vegetable broth, and use beans as the protein source in place of the pork. The fun part of this meal is the banquet of veggie add-ins served on the side and the Tofu Sour Cream, far lower in fat than dairy-based sour cream. Look ma, no cholesterol! The soup is vegetable-based, yet very wholesome and nourishing.
Living in Los Angeles, I am fortunate to have the pleasure of enjoying Mexican food frequently and collecting traditional recipes I can easily remake into healthful versions.
Some regions of Mexico believe it’s the hot chiles that have given posole its reputation for curing hangovers. Because of this notability, posole is often served on Saturday and Sunday mornings to aid recovery from the past night’s revelry.
There are many variations of posole. The soup can be red, green, or white, like the colors of the Mexican flag. Red posole gets its bright color from roasted red chiles. The green posole is made from tomatillos and pumpkin seeds, while the white posole contains hominy in a clear broth with chiles served on the side. If you’re in some regions of Mexico on a Thursday, you might enter a restaurant and see posole listed as the daily special. The soup is often included as one of the special dishes served on Christmas Eve.
- 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 1/4 pounds fresh tomatillos, husks removed
- 3 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 (14-ouncew) can diced tomatoes
- 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 to 2 jalapeno chiles, minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 large zucchini, chopped, or 4 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch lengths
- 1 red bell pepper, or 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (1 pound, 13-ounce) can hominy, undrained, or 1 (15-ounce) can corn kernels, undrained
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
- Lemon juice
- 1 1/2 cups Tofu Sour Cream (recipe below)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a 17 1/2 x 12 1/2 inch rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes or until toasted. Alternatively, toast the pumpkin seeds in a skillet over high heat, stirring constantly for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Immediately transfer them to a plate to cool. Put the seeds in a blender or food processor. Process until ground to a fine meal.
- Wash the tomatillos under running water. (They will retain their somewhat sticky surface.) Slice them into quarters and put them in an 8-to 10-quart stockpot.
- Add the vegetable broth, the canned and fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, oregano, and chili powder. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium, uncover, and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes.
- Add the zucchini and bell pepper and cook 5 to 8 minutes. Add the black beans, pinto beans, hominy with liquid, salt, and the reserved ground pumpkin seeds and cook another 5 minutes to thicken the posole.
- Before serving, add the lemon juice and adjust the seasonings. Ladle the posole into large soup bowls, and place a dollop of Tofu Sour Cream into each serving. Serve the add-ins of your choice on the side.
Add-ins: Sliced radishes, chopped onions, shredded lettuce, shredded green cabbage, diced avocados, sliced green or black olives, crushed baked tortilla chips, steamed or mashed chopped chayote squash, hot sauce, shredded vegan Jack, Cheddar, or nacho cheese, lime wedges, dried oregano, chopped cilantro.
Tofu Sour Cream
- 1 (12.4-ounce box extra-firm silken tofu, drained
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth and creamy.
- Use immediately or refrigerate for 8 to 12 hours to thicken. Stored in a tightly covered container and refrigerated the Tofu Sour Cream will keep for 1 week.