Green Hominy Soup with Crab (Pozole Verde con Cangrejo)
by Jose Garces
from The Latin Road Home: Savoring the Foods from Ecuador, Spain, Cuba, Mexico, and Peru
Pozole is a hearty hominy soup, a fiesta food so popular all over Mexico that entire restaurants, called pozolerías, specialize in it, as do many street stands and market stalls. One of three basic types (also including white and red pozole), pozole verde is tinged green from a mixture of tomatillos and green chiles. This is a riff on the traditional recipe, replacing the traditional pork broth with clam broth, and incorporating crabmeat and clams, which lend a sweet yet delicate richness.
For the hominy
Tip:The hominy needs to soak for 2 days, then simmer for 3 hours, before being used in the soup; you can do this in advance and store the cooked hominy and cooking liquid separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
For the clam broth
10 fresh quahog clams, scrubbed and rinsed under cold water
1 large Spanish onion, diced small
2 celery stalks, diced small
1 cup crushed garlic cloves (2 heads)
1 cup dry white wine
1 Tbs. whole white peppercorns
2-1/2 quarts cold water
For the soup
2 Spanish onions, diced
1/4 cup minced garlic (12 to 16 cloves)
2 lb. tomatillos, husked and washed
1 poblano chile, seeded and roughly chopped
4 serrano chiles, seeded
2 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
32 fresh littleneck clams, scrubbed to remove all dirt and sediment
2 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat
1/4 small head green cabbage, finely shredded
2 avocados, sliced
1/2 cup sliced radishes (about 4 radishes)
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves
1 Spanish onion, finely diced
1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro
Prepare the hominy
Rinse and drain the hominy. Place it in a deep container and
cover with enough cold water to completely submerge the hominy. Soak
the hominy, covered, in the refrigerator for 2 days.
To cook the hominy, rinse and drain the soaked hominy and combine it in a
stockpot with cold water to cover by 8 to 10 inches. Bring to a boil,
then decrease the heat to low and simmer, partly covered, until the
hominy is tender and opens up into blossoms, about 3 hours. Ladle out 1
quart (4 cups) of the cooking liquid, strain it through a fine-mesh
sieve, and set aside. Drain the hominy of all remaining liquid.
Make the clam broth
Combine the quahogs, onion, celery, garlic,
white wine, and white peppercorns in a stockpot and bring to a boil.
Cook until the clams just begin to open and the wine is reduced by half.
Add the cold water and bring to a simmer. Cook over low heat until all the clams are open, about 20 minutes. Discard any that don’t open. Lift the clams out of the broth and set them aside. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth. Remove the clams from their shells and discard the shells. Chop the clams into bite-size pieces and set aside.
Make the soup
Combine the clam broth, reserved hominy cooking liquid, and cooked hominy in a stockpot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the onions, garlic, tomatillos, poblano and serrano chiles, and dried oregano in a blender and purée the mixture until it is very smooth. Add the cilantro and continue puréeing until the cilantro is completely incorporated and the mixture is vibrant green. Slowly add the oil in a thin stream until the purée is emulsified. Season to taste with salt.
Add the purée to the hominy and cook 5 minutes. Add the chopped quahog clams and littlenecks to the soup and cook just until the littlenecks open, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard any that don’t open. Stir in the crabmeat and the cabbage and heat the soup just to warm through. Season to taste with salt.
To serve, divide the soup among eight warmed soup bowls and garnish with the avocados, radishes, oregano, onion, and cilantro.
Photo: Jason Varney