Deep, rich, spicy, and flavorful red pozole is a classic comfort food in Mexico – especially during the winter holiday season. It’s a chili based hominy soup and usually simmered all day with cuts of pork or chicken (or beef tripe for menudo). My version is vegan, easy, and can be made in less than an hour thanks to the Instant Pot.
Pozole: a brief
First of all, pozole is pronounced poe-SO-lay.
Traditional red pozole (pozole rojo) is made by slow simmering pork or chicken in a rich broth made of blended red chili peppers and onion, garlic, cumin, oregano, bay leaf, and a host of other herbs and spices that change based on who is making it and how their abuelita taught them. The same dish, but made with tripe instead of meat is known as menudo.
White or yellow hominy is added and it’s garnished with cabbage, radish, cilantro, onion, and lime juice. Avocado and tostadas (baked or fried corn tortillas) are also frequently enjoyed with pozole.
It can be simmered for hours to days, and is a labor of love, and a holiday tradition passed down through generations of Mexican families. It’s a beautiful dish rich in both flavor and history, and once you’ve tried it you know you’ll be craving it again and again.
As beautiful as the thought is of simmering it for days according to an ancient family recipe, I ain’t got time for that. Plus, I want it to be vegan. So I’m gonna make it convenient with quick ingredients, pre-ground and mixed spices, and an Instant Pot to cook it in less than an hour.
Here’s a breakdown of our ingredients for this quick and easy vegan pozole:
The first ingredient I use in my quick and easy vegan pozole is soy chorizo. Yup. I know. That’s weird. But trust me.
Chorizo actually has a ton of the same spices and flavors as traditional pozole: chili, garlic, some acidity, and lots of gorgeous natural red. Yes, red. That’s important because we are making red pozole. Your red pozole should not be lacking in red.
Can’t do soy? No worries! Just skip the soyrizo. 🙂
The second ingredient is portabella mushrooms. Or portobello. Or giant creminis. Whatever you want to call them, they’re meaty and absorb all the pozole flavors wonderfully. Slice them thickly so they give plenty of chew.
I use baby portabellas because they give smaller chunks that are more manageable.
Before slicing your mushrooms, please please please wash them. The brown stuff you see on your mushrooms isn’t dirt. And trust me, you don’t want to eat it.
Next is veggie broth. I love that the manufacturer has already slow-simmered this for hours and hours so that I don’t have to! Yay! Complex flavors in an instant. Life doesn’t get much better than that.
The most important ingredient of all is menudo spice. Menudo spice is an intricate and balanced mixture of a TON of herbs and spices. You can definitely mix your own, and there are thousands of recipes online if you decide you want to give it a go. I don’t. Lol. I’ve been there, done that, inhaled way too much chili pepper, and I don’t want to go down that road again. So I buy pre-made.
There are a lot of different brands out there! Fiesta is the most popular where I am, but La India and Gebhardt are very good, too. Actually, I’ve never tried one I didn’t like – so find what you can, check the ingredients for anything you’re avoiding, and use what’s safe. I’m using Gebhardt in this because I went shopping for it ON NEW YEARS EVE (when everyone is making pozole) and literally all the menudo spice was sold out except for this one because it was hidden on an end cap on the opposite end of the store.
Lastly, hominy. Humble hominy is a larger and tougher variety of corn than what most Americans are accustomed to. It’s actually the corn used to make grits! There is a yellow and a white variety, and either one will work wonderfully here. Find it close to the canned corn or in the Hispanic section of your grocery store.
INGREDIENTS: WATER, SOY FLOUR, SOYBEAN OIL, DISTILLED WHITE VINEGAR, PAPRIKA, SALT, MUSTARD POWDER, SPICES, GARLIC POWDER, CARAMEL COLOR AND POTASSIUM SORBATE (TO MAINTAIN FRESHNESS).
Let’s get started!
Step one: Turn your Instant Pot on sauté on medium heat and gather all your soup ingredients. First, add the chorizo and give it a good stir. Add about two cups of broth as needed to keep it from burning.
If you have whole mushrooms, you should cut them into about 1/2″ (about 2.5cm) slices. They don’t have to be exact. If you have sliced mushrooms, just toss them in!
Add your mushrooms to the pot.
Stir the mushrooms to coat with chorizo and juices.
Add about two cups of broth (16oz, 480ml) and stir well. The broth will keep it from burning on the bottom.
Open your hominy and drain it.
See? Corn! really ugly corn, but still corn.
Dump your drained hominy into your pot and stir well.
Now it’s time for the menudo spice! Hold your breath as you dump this in. You don’t want to breathe in chili powder. Use whatever brand you can find and tolerate. And use the amount indicated for 2-3 pounds of meat.
Delicious flavor and color, coming right up!
Stir everything really well.
IMPORTANT INSTANT POT INFORMATION!!!
My Instant Pot is a 6 quart Duo. It has a line inside that marks 2/3 capacity with a note that says “PC Max”. This is the max fill line for pressure cooking. DO NOT FILL YOUR POT UP PAST THIS POINT. If you have a smaller pot, are using any dehydrated ingredients that will increase in volume during cooking, or you are not confident about filling yours up to this point, stop here, cover, and cook now.
If you’re ok filling it up, go ahead and add another four cups of broth or until you reach the max fill line according to your Instant Pot instruction manual.
Close your lid and turn your valve to the sealing position.
Set the Instant Pot to pressure cook on normal/medium pressure for 20 minutes. It should come to pressure rather quickly since the pot is full and it’s already hot.
Once it’s done, let it natural release for ten minutes before carefully turning the valve to ‘venting’. Allow it to vent until the button drops and it’s safe to open.
If you opted to not fill your pot to the max fill line earlier, go ahead and add the four remaining cups of broth now and stir well.
Stir and serve your soup! Top with cilantro and chopped white onion, shredded cabbage, radish slices, and plenty of lime juice. It can also be enjoyed with avocado and tostadas.
Store it in the fridge for up to four days and reheat portions rather than the whole pot for best food safety.
If you don’t have an Instant Pot, don’t fret! Follow the instructions but in a slow cooker for 4-5 hours, or on a stovetop over a medium simmer for 1.5-2 hours.
Pin it for later:
- 1 lb (452g) soy chorizo
- 24 oz (680g) baby portabella mushrooms, sliced
- 2 30oz (850g) cans of hominy, drained
- 64 oz (1.8L) vegetable broth
- 3.25 oz (92g) menudo spice mix
- Finely chopped white onion
- Thinly sliced radish
- Shredded cabbage
- Fresh limes
- In the Instant Pot on the sauté function, stir together the chorizo, sliced mushrooms, and two cups of broth
- Drain and add the hominy, and stir well
- Add the menudo spice and two more cups of broth and stir well
- If you’re worried about overfilling your Instant Pot, you can seal and cook now. I have a 6qt Duo and this recipe fills it exactly to the 2/3 max fill line. DO NOT GO OVER YOUR 2/3 MAX FILL LINE. SEE YOUR INSTANT POT’S INSTRUCTION MANUAL FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
- Add the remaining four cups of broth now (or after cooking if you’re worried about overfilling the Instant Pot)
- Pressure cook on medium for 20 minutes, and allow to naturally release for 10 minutes before venting, stirring, and serving
- Garnish with fresh cilantro, chopped white onion, shredded cabbage, sliced fresh radishes, and fresh lime juice
Please use caution while using your Instant Pot, and follow the user’s manual exactly.
This can also be prepared in a slow cooker on high for 3-4 hours, or on the stovetop over a medium simmer for 1-2 hours - until the mushrooms are cooked through.
If you're avoiding soy, omit the soy chorizo and check the menudo spice mix and veggie broth well for it. If you're avoiding corn, swap the hominy for chickpeas and check your menudo mix for cornstarch and your veggie broth for corn.
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