When the only cure for last night is warm and spicy soup, Tortilleria La Perla serves up some of the Twin Cities’ best cure in a bowl. As you’re sipping your soup and recalling the details of last night, you might ponder the white, slightly fluffy, slight chewy grain that is floating in your soup. It’s nixtamal, or hominy, which is dried corn that has been soaked and cooked in limewater or ashes, and then hulled. Its popular uses include soups such as Pozolé and menudo in its whole form, and when it’s ground it can be used to make tortillas and tamales.
After spending more than a few hours contemplating the complex texture of the nixtamal in my soup, I decided to prepare some from scratch at home using Minnesota-made Native Harvest Hominy, produced by the White Earth Land Recovery Project. They’re on a mission to recover the original land base of the White Earth Indian Reservation in Northwestern Minnesota. One of their major efforts is preserving native crops, and they prepare their own hominy with ashes from burned hardwood.
The process of turning the dried hominy soft and tender was simple. It was time-consuming, but no more so than preparing dried beans for a soup. I rinsed the dried hominy and then soaked the kernels in water overnight. The next afternoon, I brought the soaked kernels to a boil and then allowed them to simmer for about two hours, stirring occasionally until they were al dente. Once they reached that perfect tenderness I seasoned them and added them to a bowl with black beans, spicy shredded pork (tinga), cilantro, and onions and ladled some broth over the bowl. It was superbly comforting and worth the effort.
Native Harvest Hominy is available locally at Seward Co-op, but if you’d rather just sit down with a bowl of soup than make it, check out Tortilleria La Perla—especially if you’re in recovery mode from last night.