Seitan Pozole Rojo

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 and 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. And today, felt like the day to make a better bowl of vegan pozole rojo than I had that day.

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!  

If you aren’t super familar with cooking with guajillo and ancho chiles, checkout this awesome guide to Mexican dried chiles from the blog, Mexico In My Kitchen. It will provide a thorough run down of how to shop, store, and use dried chiles.

For this vegan pozole rojo recipe, I also used prepackaged seitan, but certainly, you can make your own seitan from scratch. While it takes some time, it can be more economical.  For a variation of this recipe, add some pintos with the hominy. Or make it gluten free and use shredded young 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 cup OR an 8 ounce package of seitan, cut into chunks (see note above for gluten free alternative)

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 Chick’n Bouillon Cubes)

25 ounce can of hominy, drained and rinsed

Pozole Condiments:

Shredded cabbage

Sliced radishes

Avocado

Cilantro leaves

Chopped scallion

Lime wedges

1. In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, add 1 cup of the chopped onion and 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté until the onions are soft or about 5 minutes.  Then, add chiles and water.  Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

2.  Add the contents of the large pot and 6 garlic cloves to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  

3. Then pour the blended mixture into a sieve that drains into a large mixing bowl (see photo above).  

4. To separate the pulp from the liquid, use a wooden spoon or spatula to push the sauce through the sieve. I move the spatula back and forth on the bottom of the sieve. When as much liquid as possible has been pushed through the sieve, set the mixing bowl aside. You will use the chile sauce in the mixing bowl later in the recipe.

5. 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).  

6. Next, pour in 1 ½ cups of water and 1 fake chicken bouillon cube.  Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

7.  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.  

8. When the seitan is done simmering, pour in the chile sauce from the mixing bowl and the hominy.  Simmer covered for 10 more minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed (salt?).  Top with condiments and enjoy!

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