Knock Out the Cold with a Pozole Kick!

January is National Soup Month. And with my husband stuck inside with a nasty flu virus, I thought a recipe for a dynamite pozole rojo soup would be the perfect dish to warm him up and keep me healthy.

Pozole rojo (or posole) is that bright red, savory, spicy soup you find at Mexican restaurants. Studded with chiles, pork, hominy, oregano, and lime, posole is a perfect dish to spice up your kitchen and your weekend.

Pozole is a chile-based soup made with nixtamal/hominy, which is dried corn that has been soaked and cooked in limewater or ashes, and then hulled. Rather than using canned hominy, you can prepare hominy at home using Minnesota-made Native Harvest Hominy, produced by the White Earth Land Recovery Project in Northwestern Minnesota. Similar to preparing dried beans, the process of making the dried hominy soft and tender for your soup is included in the recipe below. Native Harvest Hominy is available locally at Seward Co-op.

My pozole rojo recipe is based on a recipe by Michelle at Delectable Musings. It calls for pork, but you can substitute chicken or leave the meat out all together. If you are using dried hominy for this recipe, such as Native Harvest Hominy, be sure you let it soak overnight the day before. You can use canned hominy instead—just add it when you have about 1 1/2 hours of cooking time left.

Pozole Rojo

Prep time: 40 minutes
Cook time: 3 1/2 hours
Yield: 12 servings

3 lbs pork shoulder, bone-in, cubed (or cubed stew meat, or chicken, or no meat)
4 c. chicken stock (or vegetable stock)
1 onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. dried hominy (soaked in water overnight)
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano
8 dried Guajillo chili peppers, seeded and cleaned
4 dried Ancho chili peppers, seeded and cleaned
4 dried chipotle peppers, seeded and cleaned
3 c. boiling water
1/2 c. chopped, fresh cilantro (leave it out if you don’t like cilantro)
1 lime, juiced,
1 tsp. olive oil

Serve soup with sides of: corn tortillas, lime slices, cilantro, radish slices, chopped cabbage, sliced avocado, and crumbled queso fresco.

The night before you make your soup, pour your dried hominy into a large bowl and cover with cold water by at least 3 inches.

To make the soup the next day, bring 3 cups of water to boil in a small pot. Roughly chop the seeded and cleaned chile peppers to about 1 inch size. Add the chile peppers to the pot, turn off the heat, and let the chile peppers soak for 45 minutes.

While the chile peppers are rehydrating in the pot, put a teaspoon of olive oil into the bottom of the soup pot or dutch oven on a burner set to “high.” When the oil is just starting to shimmer and wisp a little, brown your seasoned cubes of pork shoulder, making sure you do not crowd the pot until a deep brown crust is formed on the pork on all sides. When the pieces are browned all over, set them aside on a plate. Do this several times in small batches until all of the pork is seared and a dark color. Brown the bone as well. Set this aside.

In the same pan you used to brown the pork, add the onion and salt and stir, sautéing until the onion is translucent. Add in the garlic, cumin, oregano, and 1/4 cup of the cilantro, and combine. Add the chicken stock and the juice of one lime. Then return the meat and the bone to the soup pot. Bring the contents to a boil.

While the soup is coming to a boil, pour the rehydrated chili peppers and all of their soaking liquid into a blender. Holding the lid down with a towel, blend until the chili mixture is smooth. Pour the chili mixture through a strainer directly into your soup pot. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to smash the chiles in the strainer. Be sure to get every last red drop.

Stir the contents in the soup pot together. When the soup reaches a boil, turn it down to a low simmer. Add in the hominy and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Let the soup cook slowly for 3 hours.  Add additional water, if necessary.

When it’s ready to eat, serve the soup in a large bowl with tortillas, lime slices, cilantro, radish slices, avocado, and crumbled queso fresco on the side.

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