Pozole. It's like the pho of Mexico. A delicious brothy soup is accompanied by piles of fresh garnishes. Traditionally, it's made with chicken or pork with hominy. And usually, it's a food of celebration. And it's easy to understand why, it's beautiful and tasty!
Years back, I had a bowl of vegan pozole rojo at a restaurant in Santa Cruz, California. And while it was not a bad bowl of soup, it felt like it could be a better bowl of soup. Since that time, I've thought about it on and off. Today felt like as good of a day as any to take on the challenge of making a better bowl of vegan pozole rojo.
Guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, onions, garlic, smoked paprika, oregano, cumin and seitan! It's a match made in hominy heaven. Pair it with an assortment of condiments, like shredded cabbage, scallions, cilantro, avocado, radish and lime wedges, and wow! My favorite part might just be the lime wedges. My husband is partial to the shredded cabbage. Whatever you do, garnish!
As I have mentioned in other posts that use dried chiles, they are relatively easy to find in most US major grocers. Just look in the Hispanic aisle. For this recipe, I used the brand El Guapo. Both guajillo and ancho chiles are fairly mild. I also used prepackaged seitan, but certainly, you can make your own seitan, if you prefer. It can also be more economical in the long run to make your own, but does take a bit of time. For a variation of this recipe, add some pintos with the hominy, or use shredded jackfruit instead of seitan.
Seitan Pozole Rojo
2 cups chopped onion, divided
4 Tbsp olive oil
4 cups water
7 garlic cloves
6 large guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
2 ancho chiles, stems and seeds removed
1 8 ounce package of seitan, cut into chunks
½-1 tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
2 bay leaves
1 fake chicken bouillon cube (I used Edwards & Sons No Chicken)
1 25 ounce can of hominy, drained and rinsed
1. In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, add 1 cup of chopped onion and 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Sauté until the onions are soft. Then, add chiles and water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Add 6 garlic cloves and the chile-onion-water mixture to a blender. Blend until smooth. Then pour into a sieve that drains into a large mixing bowl (see photo above). Use a wooden spoon or spatula to push as much of the sauce through the sieve. When as much liquid as possible has been collected in the mixing bowl, throw out the pulp in the sieve, and set the mixing bowl full of the chile sauce aside.
3. In the large, heavy pot or dutch oven, add the remaining 1 cup of chopped onions, 2 Tbsp olive oil, seitan chunks, smoked paprika, bay leaves, oregano, and cumin. Sauté over low-medium heat until onions are translucent (~7 minutes). Then, pour in 1 ½ cups of water and 1 fake chicken bouillon cube. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
4. While the seitan is simmering, chop up your condiments. The amount you use in the soup is a matter of taste, so how much to chop up is up to you. When the seitan is done simmering, pour in the chile broth from the mixing bowl and the hominy. Simmer covered for 10 more minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Serve with the condiments on the side.