Much of my fall-cooking mentality involves having as many soups and stews as possible bubbling away on the stove at all times, so that come winter when I'm too cold to leave the apartment or need something warm when I come in from outside, I have a freezer stocked with all sorts of cozy comfort foods.
Unfortunately, my significant other is not as enamored with the mentality that soup is all you need in life. So while I'm totally okay with making a meal out of a loaf of bread and a warm liquid to dunk it in, he refuses to call something dinner unless it requires you to chew. I can't really say that I understand this approach to eating—hello, ice cream for dinner!—but I am occasionally open to compromise. Especially if it comes in the form of a big bowl of hearty, richly spiced vegetarian posole on a brisk fall night.
Posole is typically not a very vegetarian-friendly dish, as it often relies on the roasting and braising of large cuts of meat to create layers of flavor. However, when you really get down to the nitty gritty of what makes posole posole, it's the hominy—not the lamb shank or the pork butt. Hominy is essentially maize kernels that have been dried, soaked and boiled until tender, in a manner similar to how you would prepare dried beans. Though you can buy it in dried form, it is most readily available as a canned good (look for it in the section of your supermarket that sells Goya products) and requires only a quick rinse before using.
For this meatless posole I've kept the hominy, which is great for adding lots of bulk and staying power, and added in a few cans of pinto beans for the same purpose. Chipotle chili powder and poblano peppers give the stew a smoky, spicy umami flavor, while coriander, cumin and cinnamon are added into the mix for an extra layer of warmth. In terms of heat, I kept it fairly mild because not everyone in my household likes it spicy, but adjust the amount of chili powder to your liking.
Because I can't eat soup or stew without throwing in a few veggies, carrots, tomatoes and zucchini are used to flavor the broth and infuse it with a bit of sweet-tartness. The result is a stew with a mix of textures and flavors in every bite, to satisfy both the most ardent of soup enthusiasts and those that are a little bit more reticent in conceding their soup love.
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 medium red onion diced
- ½ teaspoon salt plus more to taste
- 2 poblano peppers seeded and diced
- 1 zucchini quartered and sliced
- 4 medium carrots diced
- 1 2-inch cinnamon stick
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon ground chipotle chile* plus more to taste
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 15-ounce cans hominy, rinsed and drained
- 2 15-ounce cans pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- To a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil. When hot, add the onion and salt. Sauté until translucent, 3-4 minutes. Add the poblano peppers, zucchini and carrots, and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cinnamon stick, oregano, ground chipotle chile, cumin and coriander. Cook, stirring constantly, until spices are fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Add the hominy and beans to the pot. Stir to warm through and then add the tomatoes and vegetable broth. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Remove cinnamon stick, then stir in the lime juice and season to taste with additional salt and ground chipotle chile if desired.