The soup itself is fabulous, but the garnishes is what really takes it to the next level.
This classic Mexican soup delveops its flavors form a series of techniques: braising, roasting, toasting, and frying. The soup itself is fabulous, but this dish is really elevated by the garnishes. Put them out in bowls and let everyone add their favorites. The soup is best when made a day in advance to allow the flavors to come together. If you can’t wait, be sure to save some for the next day so you can see how much better it gets. [Editor’s note: recipe from Sam Mogannam’s Eat Good Food cookbook.]
2 fresh pasilla (chilaca) or poblana chiles
3 tablespoons grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 dried ancho chile
1 dried guajillo chile
1-1/2 pounds pork shoulder, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 1/2- or 3/4-inch cubes
1 large white onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, coarsley chopped
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted lightly and ground in a mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano (see Note)
8 cups chicken stock (or low-sodium broth)
2 (29-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 cup water
Choose as many as you like
Finely shredded green cabbage
Fresh limes, cut in half for squeezing
Crisp fried tortillas (or high-quality store-bought tortilla chips)
Finely diced red onion or scallion
Thinly sliced radishes
Sliced fresh jalapenos
Coarsely chopped cilantro leav
If you have a gas stove top, char the fresh chiles over a medium flame, turning them regularly until black and blistered on all sides, about 8 minutes. Otherwise, char them under the broiler, watching them carefully and turning them until black all over. Let cool enough to handle, then peel, seed, and dice the chiles and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large stockpot over low heat. Add the dried chiles and fry, flipping once, until aromatic and blistered all over, about 1 minute total. (Be careful not to let them burn.) Remove the chiles and set aside.
Increase the heat to medium-high, season the pork with 1/2 teaspoon salt, and add enough of the pork to the pot to make a roomy single layer. Cook, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining pork. When all the pork is browned, return it and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add the onion and sauté, stirring frequently, until soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, and oregano and cook for 3 minutes more, stirring constantly.
Add the reserved fresh and dried chiles, chicken stock, hominy, and 1 tablespoon to the pot and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a bare simmer and cover the pot. Simmers gently for 1-1/2 hours, then remove the dried chiles and set aside.
As the soup continues to simmer, remove and discard the stem and seeds from the dried chiles. Put the chiles in a blender along with the lime juice and water and puree until smooth. Add the puree to the soup and continue to simmer, covered for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, or until the pork is meltingly tender.
Let the soup rest for at least 30 minutes. Then taste and season with more salt as needed before serving.
Note: Mexican oregano is sweeter and more intense than the European oregano you more commonly find at the supermarket; in fact, they’re from distinct plant families altogether and are not interchangeable. Mexican oregano is increasingly available at grocery stores and is also found in most Latin markets.