This spicy, hearty vegan pozole verde recipe features a rich broth that uses roasted jalapeños to create a satisfyingly smoky flavour. Inspired by the traditional Mexican stew, this vegan pozole uses pulled jackfruit to mimic chicken and protein-packed pinto beans because the dietitian in me wants you to feel full! It’s one of my favourite vegan soup recipes and comes together in less than 1 hour!
Confession: I am absolutely obsessed with Mexican food. Hands down, it has some of my favourite flavours and textures. A couple of years ago, I made my first trip to Mexico City and just about lost my mind researching all the places I wanted to eat! There was a surprising number of vegan restaurants in Mexico City. If you’ve got a copy of Eat More Plants Cookbook, you’ll probably see the result of all of that inspiration…as I traveled to Mexico City before I began writing!
What is pozole?
Since I don’t eat animal products, there are a lot of Mexican goodies I don’t really get to enjoy (like pozole)! So I’ve created my own version, inspired by the original pozole but with plenty of tweaks to make it work for my kitchen. As I understand it, pozole (also spelled posole) is typically either rojo or verde – although a chile-free blanco also exists. The rojo version made with pork and various dried red chiles and the verde is typically fresh green chile, tomatillo and chicken-based. Read this if you want to learn more about traditional, authentic pozole, whose origins are honestly kind of shocking.
What you’ll need to make this vegan pozole verde recipe
I’m crazy excited about this recipe. This is the kind of stew you’ll want to eat even in the middle of summer. It’s got a flavourful broth that has a nice weight to it, more stew than soup thanks to pureed roasted vegetables. I like it with plenty of lime juice so it tastes nice and bright. Even my kids like it… and they typically don’t like anything that looks this healthy! So here are the main ingredients you’ll need to source to make this flavourful stew.
- Tomatillos, poblanos or green bell peppers: if they are available and affordable to you, green tomatillos or poblanos are a more traditional choice. Bell peppers don’t have as much flavour but this is already a pretty flavourful soup so they 100% work.
- Jalapeños: hot tip (ha!) – the heat level of jalapeño peppers in the supermarket varies WIDELY. Some are as mild as a bell pepper while others will still set your hair on fire. Before you decide how much to use, slice a tiny piece of the flesh off and taste it. Then you can customize the heat level to your liking. Like it super spicy? Add them whole, seeds and all. Need to tone it down? Remove the seeds, which is the spiciest part, or use less.
- Canned jackfruit in brine (NOT syrup): you’ll ‘pull’ the jackfruit which gives it a texture like shredded chicken, my nod to the original pozole verde
- Pinto beans: the dietitian in me feels it’s my duty to tell you that as meaty as it is, jackfruit has pretty much zero plant-based protein. So I’ve added pinto beans to help fill you up.
- Pepitas: hulled pumpkin seeds, known as pepitas, give a rich flavour and plenty of important minerals like zinc. You could even make your own pumpkin seeds for a zero waste option!
- Hominy: hominy is a type of corn that is soaked in calcium hydroxide to make it tender. I’ve used canned hominy for convenience – you can find canned hominy most gourmet or Latin American markets. Here in Vancouver, Donald’s Market on Hastings typically carries it, but the most reliable source I’ve found is Mediterranean Specialty Foods on Commercial Drive. And if you want to go for the gold, the best hominy is soaked and cooked from scratch. If you can get it, Rancho Gordo is the best I’ve ever had. DON’T SKIP THE HOMINY. It is the 1 non-negotiable in this stew!
Ever gotten burned by a jalapeño that was too spicy…or totally blah? ALWAYS taste your jalapeños before cooking. Cut off a tiny piece of the flesh and see how spicy it is. That way, you can customize the heat level of your dish. Like it spicy? Use the whole jalapeño, with seeds as they are the spiciest part. Prefer it mild? Remove the seeds, or use less.
Ready? Let’s get cooking! This spicy and satisfying stew is worth the effort. It will serve a family but if you’re cooking for 1 or 2, leftovers get even better with time and it will keep for 3-4 days in the fridge, making this great for meal prep. It’s also super freezer friendly, so pop the rest in a freezer container for up to a month!
Step by Step, Let’s Make Vegan Pozole
Yes, this stew takes a bit of time…about 45 minutes of prep and another 15 minutes to cook but it is really quite simple, even for a beginner cook!
- Chop up and roast the onion, tomatillos or peppers, and jalapeño
- Shred the jackfruit
- Puree the roasted vegetables with pepitas & cilantro into a salsa verde
- Sauté garlic, then cook the jackfuit together with the herbs and spices
- Mix in the broth and roasted veggie salsa verde
- Add in the hominy and beans, & simmer
- Stir in lime juice, season with salt and pepper, dish up and garnish!
More Mexican-inspired vegan faves…
- 10 Minute Black Bean Tostadas
- Coconut Lime Paletas
- Watermelon Mint Chia Fresca
- Elote (Mexican Street Corn)
Spicy Vegan Pozole Verde with Jackfruit
- 1 large yellow onion peeled and chopped into 2 cm (3/4 inch) chunks
- 3 large green bell or poblano peppers seeded and halved or substitute 1 pound (450g) tomatillos, halved
- 1 or 2 jalepeno peppers *see note in method
- 2 cups cilantro leaves (lightly packed) with tender stems, plus more for serving (about two smallish bunches)
- 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 14oz can jackfruit in brine drained
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves minced
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano (preferably Mexican) plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- freshly cracked pepper
- 2 teaspoons better than bouillon vegetarian chicken stock or 1 vegetarian bouillon cube
- 1 15 oz can golden or white hominy drained and rinsed
- 1 14 oz can pinto beans drained and rinsed, or 1 ½ cups cooked pinto beans
- 3 limes juice 2 and cut the 3rd into wedges for garnish
- Finely shredded cabbage or radishes a mandoline helps
- lime wedges
- sliced jalepenos
- cilantro leaves
- avocado diced
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Prepare a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment.
- Place onion, jalepeno and peppers on cookie sheet, without oil and roast until completely soft and brown spots start to turn black, about 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Meanwhile, 'pull' jackfruit into shreds by shredding with two forks and set aside.
- In a food processor, puree the roasted vegetables with 2 cups cilantro, pepitas and ½ tsp of salt until it forms a thick salsa (you should still be able to see some texture). Set aside.
- In a large soup pot over medium heat, heat olive oil and then add garlic, stirring frequently for 1-2 minutes to soften and then add jackfruit, along with cumin, coriander, and oregano and cook for 4-5 minutes until the mixture is fragrant.
- Use your spatula to break up the jackfruit as you stir. Season with 1/2 teaspoon (2ml) salt and pepper.
- If using a bouillon cube, in a small bowl, dissolve the bouillon in some hot water.
- Next, add 4 cups of water to the pot along with the better than boullion (or dissolved bouillon) plus the roasted vegetable salsa and stir to mix.
- Scrape up the tasty bits from the bottom of the pot. Then add hominy and beans, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Stir in half the lime juice, taste and add more lime juice if you like (I like!). Season with salt and pepper as desired.
- Divide among bowls and garnish with your desired toppings.