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Wednesday, February 13, 2013


Red Chili Posole, a soup of the Americas with pre-hispanic roots that continues to grow in popularity

TASTY IN NORTH PARK--My ancestors on my late mom’s side have been in the Rio Grande valley of New Mexico ever since Spanish soldiers first visited in the 1500’s to found Santa Fe and other countless outposts.  I grew up with the regional cuisine interpreted by my grandmother and great aunts and uncles.  My mom had to work during WWII and didn’t get to master the local cuisine.  But I do remember New Mexican cuisine is unique.  It is different from the Mexican/Latino/Hispanic style of cooking I enjoy in San Diego.  I know New Mexico posole when I taste it.

In North Park, I’ve found one dish at one restaurant that reminds me of my Spanish-American heritage.   It’s the posole served at El Comal, 3946 Illinois, a short half block north of University Avenue.

El Comal’s posole comes in red and white and served with a choice of pork or chicken.  It is served with a side tray of onion, avocado, cabbage, cilantro and two whole corn tortillas.  The color comes from the chili.

Posole is basically a chili flavored hominy soup.  Its origins predate my Spanish soldier ancestors with roots in the Aztec culture.  Earliest New World writings mention posole.  The dish has an old soul.

Unfortunately, I was too busy being important in my career and regret never asking my beautiful grandmother and great aunts for the recipe.  The recipe below is a very common one.  Alas, it’s not my family’s but this homemade version is tasty.
I found it on

Why didn’t I ask El Comal for their recipe?
Something’s need not be tinkered with—it’s their secret and I respect that.

To El Comal’s credit it is one of the few sit down restaurants offering Mexican style cuisine that has the wonderful taste only found at a handful of take-out restaurants like Seguaro’s (Grim & 30th Sts).  I’ve never been able to understand why most restaurant fare serving Mexican can’t compete with the flavor of the best take out stands in this city.  Another mystery not to be explored today.

In the meantime, try El Comal’s posole or try your hand at home with the following recipe by fellow blogger Mary at

Red Chili Posole (pork)
makes 1 Gallon
In large soup pot over med-high heat saute:

1 Diced Onion
3 Pounds Diced Pork

When pork is slightly browned add:

12 Cups of Beef Broth
1 Pound Dried Hominy - you can use 2 pounds of canned hominy, but then you may have to thicken the soup with a little corn starch

1/4 Cup Granulated Garlic
4 Cups Bueno Brand Red Chile Puree I’m pretty sure this is extremely expensive to have shipped
**Update** I purchased Hatch New Mexico Chiles from The Real South West I seeded and cleaned 12 chiles then boiled in 3 to 4 cups of water then put in the blender until smooth.  Worked perfectly!  Hatch is a village in New Mexico.

Let simmer until Hominy is soft, about an hour and a half and stir in:

1 Tbsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Mexican or regular Oregano

Don’t be afraid to let it simmer longer.  And, it tastes great the next day as well.

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