Pozole is a flavorful and hearty soup that has been around for centuries, served either as an everyday meal or on special occasions. This dish is made with hominy corn and meat, and with time it made its way across the border and into many American homes, so you don't need to venture into Mexican markets to enjoy a large pot of it... you can have it right where you are!
What is Pozole?
Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup that consists of hominy and meat, usually pork, chicken, or beef. The soup is rich and hearty, making it a great comfort food for every day and special occasions.
This soup is usually served with toppings such as lettuce, onion, radishes, lime, and red chiles, which can be added according to taste. The dish comes in three different colors of sauce: white sauce (pozole blanco), green sauce (pozole verde), and red sauce (pozole rojo).
Traditional pozole has a long and rich history that dates back to pre-Columbian Aztec times. It was traditionally eaten during special ceremonies, and it was believed that the soup had healing powers.
The Aztecs had a unique way of making their pozole, using corn soaked in water and limestone to soften the kernels. This process made the corn more digestible and released nutrients that were beneficial to the body.
In modern times, pozole is usually eaten during holidays and celebrations. It's especially popular during Christmas and New Year's Eve, where it is often served as a midnight meal. It is also served during the Day of the Dead celebration (dia de los Muertos), a Mexican holiday that honors loved ones who have passed away and can be served alongside other dishes, like nopales.
Pozole vs Menudo
Two popular Mexican soups that are often confused with one another are Pozole and Menudo. Both are hearty, fillings and are made with pork, but that's where the similarities end. Here are the main differences between Pozole and Menudo and why you should try making both!
1. The Broth
- Pozole is a soup that uses hominy, which is dried corn kernels that have been treated with an alkaline solution.
- The soup has a clear broth and is seasoned with a blend of spices, including garlic, onion, and chili powder.
- Menudo also known as pancita (little gut), on the other hand, has a broth that is made using tripe, which is the lining of the cow's stomach.
- It's spiced with chili and garlic and has a slightly thicker consistency compared to Pozole.
2. Spice level
- Pozole is typically milder and can be adjusted to your desired heat level with the addition of peppers or other seasonings.
- Conversely, Menudo is traditionally spicier and may not be suitable for those with sensitive palates. The heat comes from using red chili peppers and other spices cooked into the broth.
3. The Toppings
- Like many other dishes in Mexican cuisine, toppings are a must. Could you imagine serving pozole or menudo without them? Not if you tried them!
- Pozole is typically garnished with shredded lettuce, sliced radishes, onions, avocado, lime wedges, and golden and crispy tortilla chips.
- Conversely, Menudo is served with minced onion, cilantro, lime wedges, and oregano, along with corn tortillas on the side.
- The foundation of any good pozole is the meat, which is typically pork. The lengthy cooking process that softens the meat makes the pork exceptionally tasty, creating a deep, savory flavor.
- To add more flavor to the meat, I recommend using a variety of cuts such as pork shoulder, butt, loin, or belly.
- The star ingredient is hominy, which is a type of dried corn that has been treated with alkali.
- Hominy is key to the texture and taste of the soup. You'll want to use canned hominy when making pozole, as it's already cooked and ready to use.
- Garlic is an essential ingredient in many Mexican dishes and is also used in pozole.
- Adding it to the broth helps enhance the flavor of the pork and hominy.
- Onions are another crucial ingredient, as they add sweetness and depth to the broth and texture. Pozole served without this ingredient wouldn't be the same!
5. Mexican oregano
- Mexican oregano is used to flavor the broth and give it a unique taste, and it mustn't be confused or replaced with the Mediterranean one, as they are not the same.
- This herb has a slightly citrusy flavor and pairs perfectly with the earthy flavor of pork, hominy, and garlic.
- Another essential ingredient is cumin, as with its earthy and warming notes it helps to round out the flavors of the soup.
- To get the most flavor from the cumin, I recommend toasting the seeds and then grinding them fresh, to create an aromatic powder.
7. Bay leaves
- Bay leaves have a herbal and floral essence, which adds a subtle yet important flavor to pozole.
- Make sure to remove the bay leaves at the end of the cooking process, as they can be tough to eat.
Types Of Pozole
1. Green Pozole
- This type of pozole is known as "verde" and is made with tomatillos, jalapenos, and cilantro.
- The tomatillos give it a bright green color and a tangy flavor, while the jalapenos add heat.
- The green pozole's broth is soupy and thinner than the other varieties.
- If you can't find tomatillos, why not try one of these tomatillo substitutes?
2. White Pozole
- White pozole, the most commonly found in Mexican cuisine, is called "blanco" and is made with hominy, onions, and garlic.
- The broth is made with chicken or pork, and the meat is left chunky.
- This version is milder than the green or red versions, while still being flavorful.
- This pozole has a thicker, creamier broth than the green pozole.
3. Red Pozole
- This type of pozole is known as "rojo" and is made with ancho or guajillo chilies or both.
- The chilies give the broth a deep red color and a rich, smoky flavor.
- This version has a thicker broth than the green pozole but is not as creamy as the white pozole.
People Also Ask [FAQs]
The difference between posole and pozole is simply in spelling, with "posole" being the more common version used near the Mexico-US border, while "pozole" is more commonly used in other parts of Mexico. Both versions refer to the same traditional Mexican soup dish.
Yes, pozole can be a healthy dish when prepared with nutritious ingredients like lean cuts of meat and low sodium broths, as it helps to manage weight, control blood sugar levels, and improve gut health.
Wrap Up: Mexican Pozole (traditional soup)
- Pozole is a traditional Mexican soup that has been around for centuries and continues to be enjoyed today. It is a hearty dish that is often served during holidays and celebrations like Christmas and New Year’s Eve or on the Day of the Dead (dia de los Muertos).
- The dish consists of hominy corn and meat, usually pork or chicken, cooked in a flavorful broth with toppings such as lettuce, onion, radishes, lime, and red chiles.
- There are three types of pozole: green (verde), white (blanco), and red (rojo). Each one has its own special characteristics which make it stand out from the other two versions.
- If you want to try pozole verde but are not planning a trip to Mexico City just yet, just follow the recipe below!
The Ultimate Recipe for Pozole Verde: A Crowd-Pleasing Mexican Soup
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 pound tomatillos peeled and washed
- 2 medium yellow or white onions coarsely chopped
- 2-3 sliced jalapenos seeds removed [adjust to your taste]
- 2-3 cloves garlic whole
- 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- salt to taste
- 1 teaspoon cracked or powdered black pepper
- 1 ½ quarter chicken stock or broth [equals 6 cups]
- 4 cups white hominy canned
- 5 tablespoons cilantro [fresh coriander]
- Heat a pan over high heat and add the tomatillos, jalapenos, onion, and garlic and roast them until they are slightly charred on all sides.
- Put the roasted ingredients in a blender, add the Mexican oregano, cumin, salt, and pepper, and blend until you get a smooth paste.
- Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, season with salt and pepper, and brown them in the same pan where you roasted the vegetables.
- Once the chicken is browned, add the paste to the pan and stir it for 2 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock, hominy, and cilantro, then stir to combine.
- Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and let it simmer for at least 30 minutes. You can let it simmer for up to 2 hours to deepen the flavors.
- Once the Pozole Verde is ready, serve it hot in bowls, topped with shredded cabbage, lime wedges, sliced radishes, and cilantro.
- To remove the seeds from the jalapenos, slice them in half lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds with a spoon.
- You can adjust the spiciness of the Pozole Verde by adding or removing jalapenos.
- If you're short on time, you can use a rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken yourself.
- To make the dish extra flavorful, you can sear the chicken in a cast-iron skillet before adding it to the Pozole.