Recipe: Mexican Red Pork Soup with Hominy (Pozole Rojo)
Around the World in 30 Soups: This month we’re collaborating with chefs, cookbook authors, and our own Kitchn crew to share a globetrotting adventure in soups from countries and cuisines around the world. Today’s stop: Mexico.
We asked Gonzalo Guzmán, chef at San Francisco’s Nopalito and author of the eponymous cookbook, to share his take on one of the soups that speaks most to him of Mexico.
Pozole is one of Mexico’s oldest soups, supposedly dating back to Aztec times. There are a few variations of pozole that are popular in Mexico — green and white are two of them. But just like any dish (such as mole), there is always a first one. And the first one was the pozole rojo. It dates all the way back from the Aztec times in Mexico, but today it continues to evolve and every cook has a different version.
Although nowadays there are a million different versions, this old-school recipe has a smoky red stock spiced with puréed chiles. You wouldn’t call it pozole without the addition of hominy — whole white corn kernels that have been acidified to soften their casings and render their kernels plump and chewy.
For all its richness and the comfort it provides, pozole is actually a very simple dish. But what makes it a really satisfying meal is, to me, the texture and flavor from all the toppings atop the broth. The radishes, onions, and sliced cabbage are great for crunch. Feel free to pile them high in your bowl. And because every Mexican has to have something spicy on the table, we finish ours with a mix of ground chili powders (or you can substitute hot sauce). Fried tortillas are a must-have; I never eat a bowl without them.
—Gonzalo Guzmán and Stacy Adimando, authors of Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen
*Recipe note: You need a large stockpot to make this dish, or you can divide it among two large (6-quart) Dutch ovens.
Serves6 to 8
For the adobo:
large dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 2 cloves
large white onion, roughly chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons
dried Mexican oregano
- 1 teaspoon
For the soup:
Cheesecloth and kitchen twine
- 2 cloves
- 8 sprigs
- 4 pounds
boneless pork shoulder, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 8 cups
drained canned hominy, divided
- 4 cups
thinly sliced green cabbage (about 1 small- to-medium head)
breakfast radishes, thinly sliced
medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons
Chopped fresh or dried oregano
Fresh cilantro leaves
- 4 cups
Make the adobo:
Place the chiles in a heatproof bowl and add boiling water to cover; let sit until the chiles are softened, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the chiles to a blender (reserve the soaking water). Add the garlic, onion, oregano, cumin, and a generous pinch of salt to the blender and purée, adding just enough of the soaking water to form a thick, smooth paste.
Make the soup:
In a piece of cheesecloth, wrap the yellow onion, garlic, cilantro stems, and bay leaves; secure with twine to form a bundle, then set aside.
Season the pork on all sides generously with salt. Place the pork, adobo, and the cheesecloth sachet in a large stockpot; add 6 quarts water to cover, and stir or whisk to incorporate the adobo. Season generously with salt, then bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let cook until the pork is tender, about 1 hour.
In a blender, purée 1 cup of the hominy with about 1 cup of the braising liquid from the pork. Add the puréed hominy and the remaining 7 cups hominy to the pozole and bring back to a boil. Turn off the heat and let cool slightly, then skim away the excess fat that rises to the top. (Pozole can be made in advance and refrigerated at this stage.)
Bring the stew back to a simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Ladle into 6 to 8 serving bowls and serve with the cabbage, radishes, red onion, limes, chili powder, oregano, cilantro, and tortilla chips.
Reprinted with permission from Nopalito, copyright 2017 by Gonzalo Guzman with Stacy Adimando. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.