Pozoles, more like stews than soups, are even heartier than caldos, thanks to the key starch ingredient of hominy, a form of corn. These heavy hitters are a whole meal – like a crunchy salad served over a thick meaty broth.
Serves 8 to 10
2 tablespoons lard, vegetable oil or chicken fat
2 medium onions, diced
4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups chicken stock
2 cups canned hominy, drained
4 cups Carnitas, see recipe
4 cups Tomatillo Salsa, see recipe
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
10 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 head cabbage, shredded
2 limes, cut into wedges
Melt the fat in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Saute the onions until golden brown and limp, about 10 minutes. Then add the garlic and cook briefly, just until the aroma is released.
Add the chicken stock, hominy and carnitas, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatillo salsa and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and serve with the garnishes for sprinkling at the table.
Tortilla Soup is as easy to make as it is to love. All it takes is some leftover chips, salsa and chicken broth to make this wonderful, traditional soup. We like to go overboard when it comes to garnishing. Feel free to add diced avocado, a handful of your favorite grated cheese, a spoonful of sour cream and more crisp tortilla chips for that added bit of crunch at the end. Since Tortilla Soup thickens as it sits, you can always thin leftovers with additional stock or water.
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
3 cups Red Tomato Salsa, see recipe below
7 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 dried chipotle chile, stemmed and seeded (optional)
2 teaspoons salt
3/4 pounds fried tortilla chips
1 bunch cilantro, leaves only
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1/2 cup crema, creme fraiche or sour cream
2 limes, cut into 4 wedges each
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or saucepan over low heat. Add the onions and cook slowly, stirring frequently, until pale brown and caramelized, 30 to 40 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 10 minutes longer.
Add the tomato salsa, chicken or vegetable stock, optional chipotle chile and salt. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes. Stir in the fried tortilla chips and simmer 10 minutes longer, until the chips soften. Remove and discard the whole chipotle chile. Ladle into soup bowls and top each with cilantro, a few avocado chunks, a dollop of crema, creme fraiche or sour cream and a lime wedge. Serve hot.
Red Tomato Salsa
If you’re looking for an easy sauce to keep in the freezer for instant Mexican meals, this is the one. It provides the flavor base for such traditional dishes as tortilla soup, fideo, red rice, and chilaquiles, and can also be served as a sauce for strong, rich foods – like chiles rellenos – that call for something sturdy but not too assertive in the background.
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1 large jalapeño chile, stemmed and sliced
4 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes
1 cup tomato juice
Heat vegetable oil in a medium skillet over moderate heat. Sauté onions with salt and pepper until soft, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to a blender. Add tomatoes and tomato juice and puree until smooth.
Pour into a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 20 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Set aside to cool for table salsa or use warm for tortilla soup, red rice, or chilaquiles. Store in refrigerator 2 to 3 days or in freezer for weeks.
Photo: Lisa Romerein
Lentils, like other beans, are a good vehicle for the kind of strong flavorings we love. When cooking any bean soup, occasionally give it a stir to avoid burning the beans on the bottom.
Serves 8 to 10
2 large onions
11 cloves of garlic
2 cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1 bunch fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried
1 gallon vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
3 cups lentils, washed and picked over
6 tablespoons olive oil or unsalted butter
2 ripe plantains, peeled, cut in half, and diced
3 medium carrots, peeled, cut into quarters lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/2 bunches cilantro, chopped
Cut 1 onion into chunks and the other into dice. Mince 6 of the garlic cloves and keep the remaining 5 whole.
Place the onion chunks, whole garlic cloves, cinnamon sticks, and cloves in the center of a medium square of cheesecloth. Tie the ends together to form a package. Place the fresh thyme in another square of cheesecloth and tie the ends together to enclose.
Combine the stock and the spice and herb packages, or dried thyme, in a large stockpot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Stir in the lentils and continue cooking until they are cooked through but still firm, 15 minutes. Strain the lentils, reserving the liquid and the thyme bundle.
Heat the olive oil or butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the diced onions until lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the plantains, carrots, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking until the plantains are soft and golden, 15 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and allspice and cook about 5 minutes longer, being careful not to scorch the garlic.
Add the lentils, their reserved liquid, and the thyme bundle. Bring to a simmer and cook another 15 minutes. Remove from the heat, and remove and discard the thyme bundle. Stir in half of the chopped cilantro. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the remaining chopped cilantro.
Photo: Lance Booth
Makes 10 servings
1 kabocha squash (about 2 1/2 pounds), cut in half, seeds removed (acorn, butternut, delicate are also fine)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons paprika (sweet, spicy or smoked: to your taste)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 thyme sprigs
4 cloves garlic
2 medium onions, sliced (about 2 cups)
5 cups fresh carrot juice, from the refrigerated section
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup Spiced Pepitas (see recipe), for garnish
Crispy Flour Tortilla Flatbreads (see recipe), for garnish
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat squash halves with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season liberally with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with the paprika of your choice. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil with cut side facing up. Place garlic cloves and thyme sprigs in each seed hollow. Roast until completely tender and lightly browned in spots, about 45-60 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Discard thyme stems, keeping the leaves and carefully scrape flesh away from skin. Discard skin.
Meanwhile, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until completely tender and nicely browned, about 15 minutes total. Add cooked squash flesh (discarding the skin) along with garlic cloves and thyme leaves. Stir to combine. Add carrot juice and bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes, skimming and discarding the foam. Remove from heat and blend until smooth.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve piping hot, garnishing with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a generous pinch of chopped cilantro and 1 tablespoon Spiced Pepitas per bowl and Crispy Flour Tortilla Flatbreads.
Makes 1/2 cup, 10 servings
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, to taste
A pinch of cayenne, to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup raw pepitas (hulled green pumpkin seeds), unsalted
In a small bowl, combine lime juice, cayenne, salt, and pepper and stir until dissolved. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add pepitas and toast, tossing frequently, until seeds begin to expand and turn a light golden color. Add seasoned lime juice and stir well to coat all seeds. Remove from heat and cool in the pan. Serve at room temperature.
Crispy Flour Tortilla Flatbreads
2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 12-inch flour tortillas
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Dissolve salt in lime juice, and then stir in paprika, cayenne and oil.
Brush 1 side of each tortilla with oil lime mixture. Cut each tortilla into 8 to 10-inch long, thin triangles with a sharp knife. Bake until crisp and lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes total. Transfer to racks to cool.