Vegetarian “Christmas” Posole

23 Dec

I grew up with rich traditions in both my households, and though I don’t celebrate Christmas anymore, I still come home at some point during the holidays to spend time with my family.

New Mexico is a state with strong Catholic roots and a great deal of celebration around Christmas.  On Christmas eve, people all over the state put up luminarias, or farolitos, which are paper bags filled with sand and a candle.  Entire neighborhoods will be lit up just by these lovely decorations.

When my sisters and I were at my mom’s house, we would spend Christmas eve driving around to look at the displays and then walk around Albuquerque’s Old Town, which is bustling and filled with people.  We would then come home and eat a warm hot meal.  Many people in NM traditionally eat chicken or pork posole (a chile stew made with hominy).  For as long as I can remember, we have eaten this vegetarian posole recipe that is an amalgam of my cousin’s green chile stew and a stew from the Moosewood Restaurant Low Fat Favorites. The red and green colors in the stew make is perfect for the Christmas holiday.

This year I came back to New York to spend the rest of Hanukkah with my husband, so we ate our posole last night instead; its warmth and the comfort of our tradition made the night special.

One of the main ingredients of this stew is Hatch green chile, a New Mexican staple  that is hard to find in many parts of the country. When I am back in ABQ I eat massive quantities of it and then bring back as much as I can in my carryon bag.  I use it sparingly until I run out and then I order it online from places like Chile Monster  – if you’ve never had it before and you like spicy food, you must put it on your to do list. You can buy it in small cans in many grocery stores, but they rarely sell hot.

If you are roasting and peeling your own chile, make sure to wear food prep gloves – this stuff burns!

2 medium onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
roughly 2 cups chopped Hatch green chile (roasted and peeled) 2 cans diced tomatoes with green chiles
6-8 cups vegetable broth (depending on how soupy you like it); I use better than Bouillon to make my broth
3 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
10 oz bag lima beans
2 large cans hominy (32 oz cans), drained and rinsed
roughly 2 tablespoons cumin
roughly 1 tablespoon red chile powder
salt to taste

Heat oil in large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent. Add cumin and red chile powder.  Cook for about 1 minute and then add in tomatoes.  Stir to combine and pour in broth.  Stir in beans, hominy, and chile.  Bring to a boil and then turn to a simmer.

Cook for at least 30, but you can leave this on a low simmer all day.  The flavors just get better as they cook and it fills the house with an amazing smell. Season to taste with salt, cumin, and chile powder.

I eat it plain with some thick, flour tortillas, but I serve it with shredded cheese and sour cream.


5 Responses to “Vegetarian “Christmas” Posole”

  1. vegansparkles January 1, 2012 at 2:49 am #

    Ooh, yum, I will have to try this one. 🙂

    • vegetarianepicurean January 5, 2012 at 6:31 pm #

      Thanks! It really is incredible – it is a definite family favorite and good for warming the belly when it is cold outside.

  2. Maria-Veronica March 4, 2012 at 11:17 am #

    I would love to try this one. I discovered Pozole here in NE through my Mexican friends and LOVED it. I did not know I could make it vegetarian. Can I replace the peppers with a different kind if I don’t find them?

    • vegetarianepicurean March 4, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

      Sure! It would be yummy (though less spicy) with poblano. Also, the asian long hot pepper that you can find at places like Market Basket is pretty similar to the New Mexican chile.

      I recently found a hot version of chopped Hatch chile at Whole Foods – but the cost makes it almost prohibitive for something like this. Next time I make this though, I’ll be sure to save you a bowl!

  3. David Sewell October 24, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Thanks for posting this recipe. The past few years, my wife and I have prepared Southwestern chiles, always including a vegetarian option, for October meals for our local Virginia community group. I had been making a green chile with tepary beans and posole that was a bit disappointing the last time, so this year I did a web search for alternatives and found yours. It was easy to prepare and gave excellent results. I used Trader Joe canned Hatch chile, and made a couple of substitutions: for the canned hominy, about 3/4 pound of dried Rancho Gordo white corn posole; for the pinto beans, about 3/4 pound of dried Bolita beans, a northern Mexico variety from Native Seeds/SEARCH. And Chimayo ground red chile powder for the red. Soaked & cooked the beans & posole ahead of time, fried the onions & garlic the night before & refrigerated, in the morning put all the ingredients in a slow cooker to simmer all day, and it came out perfect.

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