spinach pasta nests

There are a lot of classic dishes like beef stroganov that I’ve never tried because they sounded gross to me. So, why was I even looking for a similar recipe? Because, I had a bare fridge containing sour cream and mushrooms. Laziness and thriftiness have spawned a recipe that is now in my regular rotation! A quick, creamy pasta is the stuff I need to get through a rough work week, and this adaptation from the Whole Foods site does the trick every time. You can of course get creative and add other spices and veggies, but this is one of those dishes that I keep simple. I think this would work with vegan sour cream, but I’m not completely sure if the sauce would separate.

stroganov side

I am obsessed with these spinach nests I found at Sprouts. The brand is Delverde.

I am obsessed with these spinach nests I found at Sprouts. The brand is Delverde.

The original recipe is called Sour Cream Chicken and Mushroom Pasta and can be found here.

Here’s my take:


Makes 4 servings

1 tablespoon butter or oil
1½ cups sliced or chopped mushrooms
1 cup sour cream
1 cup no-beef broth, mushroom broth, or your favorite broth (I use half of an Edward & Sons Not-Beef bouillon cube diluted in 1 cup hot water)
Paprika (optional)
½ pound dried fettuccine or your favorite pasta

Melt butter or oil in a skillet. Add mushrooms and cook a few minutes or until softened. Stir in sour cream, broth, and paprika (I like to sprinkle a few shakes of smoked paprika). Cover and simmer on low until slightly thickened or when pasta is ready. Prepare pasta according to package instructions. Drain well, and toss with sauce. Garnish if you like with cheese or fresh herbs.

stroganov top

Review: Tutu’s Burgers & Hand Carwash

Best way to describe this housemade veggie burger? Delicious monstrosity. It’s a panko-crusted patty similar to falafel that’s slathered with tahini sauce and salsa, topped with lettuce and pickled cucumbers on a fresh-baked bun from Seham’s Bakery.

This review was originally published in the August 6, 2014 issue of What’s Up Weekly.

Tutu’s is the kind of place you’d expect to be featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives show. Located on Zaragoza, across from the bowling alley, this bustling little two-in-one spot is no greasy dive. Meat is ground fresh daily, condiments are made in-house, vegetables are pickled in-house and brioche buns come baked fresh from Seham’s Bakery.

An eclectic cast of 10 gourmet burgers are available, with their descriptions scrawled across the chalkboard wall. Baskets come with a ginormous half-pound burger or sliders in orders of one or two (which are rather large for sliders) and a bucket of regular or sweet potato chips. Their homemade chips are thickly sliced and fried. Regular potato chips are seasoned with parmesan and herbs, and sweet potato chips come sprinkled with nutmeg, drizzled in honey and topped with feta.

Customer favorites include the Chihuahua burger with cheddar, caramelized onions and roasted green chile. The Lebanon has quickly become a second favorite, where lamb is ground with pistachios, almonds, cashews and walnuts and topped with feta, yogurt, cucumber and mint. Tuscany is a lighter option of chicken ground with parmesan and then topped with pesto, pickled bell peppers and a house blend of melted mozzarella and sundried tomatoes. Vegetarians won’t miss out with a panko-crusted patty similar to falafel that’s slathered with tahini sauce and salsa, topped with lettuce and pickled cucumbers that offer a refreshing crispness.

At Tutu’s, you’ll be able to check a couple of items off your to-do list, including relaxing on their patio with an ice cold beer while you wait for your car to be washed. Best of all, Tutu’s runs the gamut of hours; grab breakfast during the mornings or a late night eat up until midnight during the weekends. Visit their facebook page to view new and off-the-menu items like hummus and salads.

1641 N. Zaragoza
Monday-Wednesday 8 a.m. -10 p.m., Thursday-Sunday 8 a.m.-12 a.m.
Find them on Facebook & Instagram
Vegetarian friendly

Click to add a blog post for Tutu's Burger on Zomato

Review: Pho Tre Bien Express

This review was originally published in the September 3, 2014 issue of What’s Up Weekly.

Pho Tre Bien basically pioneered Vietnamese cuisine in El Paso, so it was only a matter of time before the El Paso staple expanded. Instead of opening another full service location, owners decided to open a stripped down express version in the northeast near highway 54. The tiny, divey location embodies everything a pho joint should be – generous portions, good prices and fresh and flavorful comfort food.

It’s almost a requirement to order spring rolls here, which come in pairs wrapped in rice paper and stuffed with rice vermicelli noodles, vegetables and your choice of grilled beef, chicken, shrimp, pork or tofu and a side of creamy peanut dipping sauce. Other appetizers include fried eggrolls, lumpia rolls and fried chicken wings marinated in Asian spices. Another requirement is ordering a large steamy bowl of pho. Fragrant beef broth is served over rice noodles with the option to garnish with bean sprouts, cilantro, basil, fresh jalapenos and lime. Pho options include rare steak, brisket, meatballs, chicken, shrimp, veggies and tofu or a combination of meats. If you’re indecisive, brisket is the most popular pho here.

This is also one of the only places in El Paso where you’ll find banh mi, a traditional Vietnamese sandwich served on a crusty baguette that’s slathered with mayonnaise and pate and topped with julienned carrots, jicama, cucumber, jalapenos and cilantro. Sandwiches can be ordered with ham and headcheese, grilled beef, pork or sautéed lemongrass tofu. If you’re not craving soup or sandwiches, plenty of rice noodle and steamed rice dishes are available, including charbroiled meats and curry chicken.

No Vietnamese restaurant would be complete without boba tea, the milky tea served with tapioca pearls that comes in various fruit flavors. If you visit during lunchtime, you may want call in your order or take it to go; seating is limited and the kitchen gets backed up.

Additional Veg Snob Notes: Order the tofu sandwich, pictured above. The lemongrass tofu has a perfect texture; a bit on the salty side on my visit, but still oh so good. Ask for it without mayo to make it vegan. They have a vegetarian section on their menu that includes the lemongrass tofu on noodles or rice. They’ve since added a third location in the UTEP area called Pho Tre Bien Bistro at 3737 N. Mesa, but I have yet to try it.

Pho Tre Bien Express on Urbanspoon
10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Vegan friendly
Children’s menu available

Harvest Chowder

So far, El Paso has been treated to some unusually great spring weather. We are used to windy-dusty-allergy-infested springs, but instead it’s been warm, then cool with a bit of rain, and now it’s warming up again. In March, the El Paso Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ( held its first annual Delicious and Nutritious Recipe Contest. I thought it would be a fun challenge and the $5 entry covered a detailed nutrition analysis of your recipe with tips to make it healthier. Entering a soup recipe with harvest in the title was risky since it’s warm and springtime, but I was thinking more about the ease of transporting and keeping a dish warm if I was to be selected as one of the finalists. Also, soups are easy to make and a great way to sneak in a bunch of veggies.

Well, I was selected as a finalist and ended up winning 2nd place! I was really surprised that I won because a couple of other entries were desserts and I started doubting my entry. 1st place went to shrimp tacos that used a paper thin slice of jicama as the taco shell. I tried the taco shell with the salsas she made, and one was really good because it had vegenaise in it. FYI, Cafe Mayapan sometimes serves tacos with jicama shells and they can probably do a vegetarian version if you ask. 2nd place went to my soup which had sweet potatoes, navy beans, arugula, corn, chipotle. 3rd place went to a nopal salad that had feta cheese and fresh oregano in it. It was really refreshing and the nopales (cactus) had a good texture. I only got to try one of the desserts, which was raw fudge, and it was so good! She will soon be posting her recipes on her sister’s blog Tried and True, but in the meantime you can follow her on Instagram: triedandtruefood. I was waiting until they sent me the nutritional analysis before I posted the recipe, but they never sent it or posted it, so here it is!

harvest chowder aerial

Harvest Chowder

I must admit that this recipe draws inspiration from The Hoppy Monk’s veggie monk burger, except it doesn’t have black beans and isn’t nearly as delicious. I used navy beans instead, because they have a perfectly creamy texture that blend well.

Yields about 4-6 servings
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 small shallot, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
1 canned chipotle pepper, minced & 1-2 tablespoons of the adobo sauce (La Costena brand)*
1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups vegetable broth (I used 1 Rapunzel brand vegetable bouillon no salt added cube diluted in 2 cups boiling water)
1 cup frozen corn
2 cups cooked navy beans or 1 15-oz. can navy beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup or more arugula or your favorite greens or frozen spinach
1/2 tablespoon oil (I used canola)
*if you don’t like chipotle or want to reduce sodium, try using about 1 teaspoon of a mild chile powder or smoked paprika
Optional garnish:
1 poblano pepper
Lime juice from half a lime
handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
Preparation Instructions:
  • If using the garnish, roast the poblano on a grill or open flame on stovetop until charred on all sides. Set aside in a covered container to steam and cool.
  • Saute shallots for about 2-3 minutes or until softened. Add sweet potato, cumin, oregano, and chipotle (or paprika or chile powder), and stir and saute for a few more minutes.
  • Add broth, bring to a boil, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through and soft.
  • While the soup is cooking prepare the garnish. Peel and rinse the poblano, and dice. Toss poblano with lime juice and cilantro and season with salt and pepper if desired.
  • Add 1 cup of the navy beans to the soup and puree until desired thickness is reached (use an immersion hand blender or transfer soup to a blender).
  • After blending, add frozen corn, greens, and the rest of the beans. Simmer for about 4-6 more minutes, or until greens are wilted and corn is cooked through.
  • Season with salt and pepper if necessary.
  • Serve in bowls topped with garnish.
If you want a richer soup, you can also add a bit of milk or half & half, or top with sour cream and cheese. Other good garnish toppings would be pepitas and tortilla strips or crumbled tostadas.
harvest chowder side

La Semilla Edible Institute

This blog has been neglected for about 3 months, but I promise you I have good excuses. One excuse I am most excited to tell you about is that I submitted a grant proposal to implement seed libraries at all of our El Paso Public Library locations. During the process of writing the grant I came across a workshop offered during EPISD’s spring break. The Edible Education Spring Break Institute was a four day workshop organized by La Semilla Food Center. It was targeted towards teachers on how to incorporate gardening and cooking in the classroom, but they allowed me to register since we offer youth programs at the library. Plus, it totally aligned with the grant I was writing.

La Semilla is a nonprofit group in Anthony, New Mexico that is doing great things for our community, while growing delicious food. They are dedicated to fostering a healthy, self-reliant, fair, and sustainable food system in the Paso del Norte region of Southern New Mexico and El Paso, TX. They teach cooking and garden skills in classrooms, afterschool clubs, and have cooking nights for families. They are currently accepting applications for their really cool summer day camps for K-6. So, if you’ve got $45 and a bored kiddo, sign them up! Visit for more details. They operate on a 14 acre demonstration farm, which produces some delicious fruits and vegetables. You can buy their produce on Saturdays at the Downtown Artist & Farmers Market from 9 am-1 pm.

Gemstone Greens. Best & most beautiful salad mix I’ve ever had! They don’t even need dressing.

The institute took place at Bowie High School, which was the perfect setting since they have a student garden that is about a year old. Activities at Bowie Jardines are incorporated into the science, business, and culinary school programs. Throughout the institute, we visited the garden to learn about concepts and apply activities. If this institute is ever offered again and you’re an educator, you NEED to sign up. I know that our Texas school system lives and breathes STAAR testing, but I think it is possible to incorporate some of these activities and concepts into the classroom with little effort. I’m going to implement it into our library youth programs, as we have much more flexibility. Our challenge is that we sometimes lack an audience. Here’s a quick little recap of what we learned and did in photos: Day 1, March 9:

Composting area

For lunch on this day, we broke up into teams and made different massaged kale salads that were all yummy.

    Day 2, March 10:

For lunch on this day, we had a cooking demonstration from Eduardo Bouche, who teaches cooking classes at Creative Kids and at Proper Printshop. He made vegan ceviche where the seafood was replaced with boiled cauliflower. It was refreshing and delicious! You can attend his free vegan cooking classes on the 1st & 3rd Sundays of the month at 5 pm at Proper Printshop on 800 Montana. Visit for more info.

Day 3, March 11:   

For lunch on this day, we had a super flavorful dish taught by Jacqueline Cordova of The Green Ingredient. We used a spiralizer to make raw zucchini noodles that were tossed in a marinara sauce made from tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, and other ingredients. Even though the dish was raw, the “noodles” had a nice toothsome texture that went great with the marinara sauce that could rival a slow-simmered sauce.

The day ended with a field trip to Academy West where Travis Duckworth is doing some really interesting and amazing things to teach and encourage sustainability in our region. El Paso Academy is a 9-12th grade charter school located in both east and west El Paso, but the west location has a huge community garden project going on in their own 1.25-acre backyard. A maze of trenches, composting, an amphitheater, chicken coop, and more all being built by students and the community. Anyone can volunteer to help out during their garden work days that occur every month. To learn more, read this article that appeared in the El Paso Times.

academy west

Academy West

Day 4, March 12:   So, on this day I happened to have an interview for a promotion scheduled following the workshop. I was a ball of nerves the whole morning, but this was my favorite day. We got to plant our own herb gardens and keep them, which totally relaxed me. I even hauled my herb garden with me to the interview at the Main Library. We also learned about traditional foods of the southwest, like nopal, chia, and amaranth. For lunch, Chef Norbert Portillo of Tabla demonstrated how to make a salad. As a food blogger and fan of Chef Norbert’s work, you know this was super exciting for me. I learned some new techniques and then ate a salad made with greens that had been harvested from their farm that morning. Talk about fresh!

Chef Norbert Portillo of Tabla

Chef Norbert Portillo of Tabla

Year in Review: 2014

A shorter version of this article was first published in the December 31, 2014 issue of What’s Up Weekly.

2014 el paso food collage

1st row, left to right: Cicala’s, Sun Garden Chinese Bistro & Joe, Vinny & Bronson’s. 2nd row: The Mustard Seed Cafe, Southwest University Park & Thai Chef Cafe. 3rd row: Dragonfly, Papa Pita & Tutu’s Burgers

A friend once asked me if there were enough new restaurants in El Paso to write about on a weekly basis. The answer to that question is a quizzical look followed by an emphatic YES. There are almost too many to keep track of. Every single week this past year, there has been at least one new business permit application filed, restaurant opening and food truck debut. It’s an exciting time to live in El Paso, and the 2014 restaurant scene is proof of El Paso’s renaissance.

Many of 2013’s trends spilled over into 2014, namely craft beer and food trucks. The Sun City Craft beer festival was bigger and better in its second year, and the Sun City on Tap festival is set for this month. There seemed to be fewer beer dinners and more pub crawls and tap takeovers. Restaurants and bars are realizing that a haphazard assortment of craft bottled and canned beers isn’t enough anymore; El Pasoans are looking for a well-curated selection of both draught and bottle. Tosca added draught beer to their menu, while Unruli’s Pizza & Pints gained more taps after owners consolidated Rulis’ International Kitchen with Unruli’s (Peking Garden Express took over Ruli’s IK). Craft and Social brought even more life to downtown with a bit of turn of the century whimsy and a thoughtful selection of beers (they even managed to add a sandwich menu midyear). The region’s brewery scene is also set for growth, as Sun City Brewing Co opened in Canutillo, Spotted Dog Brewery in Mesilla and Dead Beach Brewery in downtown still in construction.

Top row: Santa Fe Brewery tap takeover @ Unruli's & Sun Brewing Co in Canutillo. Bottom row: Sun City Craft Beer Fest & Craft & Social

Top row: Santa Fe Brewery tap takeover @ Unruli’s & Sun Brewing Co in Canutillo. Bottom row: Sun City Craft Beer Fest & Craft & Social

The City of El Paso reported 384 vendor licenses this year, and they are thriving with the help of social media, local support and food truck parks. Gabe Padilla, owner of El Paso’s Wurst is at the helm of the weekly Food Truck Circus events, acting as coordinator and promoter. For a list of the food trucks of 2014, complete with links, visit What’s Up.

Pho [insert punny title here]

Pho Tre Bien and Saigon Taste are no longer your only sources for this cure-all soup. Pho So 1 opened two more locations – one on Gateway West near Hunter and most recently, downtown on Paisano. Another eastside provider is Mekong Thai, which specializes in sushi, Thai and Vietnamese food. Opening at the tail end of the year was Photastix, a fast casual Vietnamese restaurant, which replaced Mama Fu’s. Spork, a food truck making “urban drunk food for every palate,” created a fusion pho called Pho King Posole. Eloise’s current menu has a vegan version named Pho-geddaboudit. What the Pho has yet to open near UTEP.

Appy Eats

Businesses haven’t needed a website for the last few years thanks to social media, and this year marked the rise of app-based social media site, Instagram. Local restaurants, bars, food trucks, caterers and grocery stores could all be found on Instagram sharing pics of new dishes, drinks and daily specials. This year also saw the increasing disappearance of the traditional register. In its place, a tablet or smartphone using Square or other app as a point of sale system. Spectrum Solutions designed two free apps available in both iOS and Android marketplaces. Soupfly helps you find nearby health inspection scores of any business that has a kitchen, including daycares. The Food Chasers (the name has been changed to Food Cravers) app is a live food truck directory offering menus, schedules, deals and more. The El Paso Beer Club released the El Paso/Ale Paso app. The craft beer guide helps you find your favorite places, pubs and events ($0.99 in the iOS and Android marketplaces).

Expansion: Sequels & Threequels

The sprawling city has led to the success and expansion of several local entrepreneurs. Many headed east and downtown, while Wing Daddy’s and The Hoppy Monk took their formula to San Antonio. Cafe Italia, Chubby’s Bronx Deli, Tippi Teas, The Pizza Joint, Zino’s, Corralito Steakhouse and Mac’s Place all added locations. The original Cabo Joe’s at Sioux moved to Fuddrucker’s’ former location on Gateway East, making room for the new country bar and BBQ joint, The Tumbleweed Saloon. It was a huge year for the Pan y Agua group, as they unveiled three eateries at their TI:ME at Montecillo shopping center: Hillside Coffee & Donut Co, Malolam Cantina and Stonewood Modern Grill. Their third Crave location at Resler is now open.

Franchise Year

El Pasoans love chains and it appears investors have finally noticed. 2014 said hello to Blake’s Lotaburger, Which Wich, Einstein Bros Bagels, Firehouse Subs, La Madeleine, Kona Grill, Grimaldi’s, French Fry Heaven, Papa Murphy’s, Ojos Locos, Boston Market, TCBY & Mrs. Fields, Nothing Bundt Cakes and Raising Cane’s.

Inaugural Year

Hands down, the ballpark was 2014’s biggest local newsmaker, and the food was no exception. Huevos Rancheros burgers, buffalo chicken and waffle sandwiches, Memphis meets Mexico hotdogs, fried alligator and more could all be found at the concessions. And, who wouldn’t want to eat nachos out of a commemorative dog bowl? Vegetarian options were limited to cheese pizza and a pricey hummus platter. I’d really like to see a veggie dog or brat! Check out my food and pricing guide here>>.

Other Trends

2014 was also the year of businesses constructed out of freight shipping containers (TI:ME & The Coffee Box), veggie menudo, and the Cantina (Cantina Malolam, Mark’s Cantina, Blackbird Cantina Deluxe). Food was also plated on all kinds of unique dishware that included wooden carving boards, slate, galvanized tins, pizza pans, and dog bowls.


The restaurant industry is rough, and unfortunately every year, we have to say goodbye to both legends and newcomers that didn’t make it to 2015: Sushi Express, Pacifica, Good Coffee (N. Mesa), Haskins House, Opus World Bistro, Campus King, The Percolator, Red Mountain Bistro, Rancher’s Grill (west & UTEP locations), La Feria Grill, Star City Kitchen, Suzu, The Hamburger Stand and Kipp’s Cheesesteak. The Original Blimp had operated for 40 years and Moe’s Restaurant for 60 years.

Update: Found out from my friend John that these Cinci establishments also closed last month: Great American Land & Cattle (only the Cincinnati location), Japanese Kitchen, Yamato, Baba Ghanoush, The Social House Drinkery, and Everyday Gyro.

el paso food collage 2014 pt 2

Top row, left to right: Hillside Coffee & Donut Co, Malolam & Rita’s Jamaican. Middle row: CoLi Wok & Grille, La Casa de Choripan & Tasty Pants Paletas. Bottom row: A2Z Cafe, Craft & Social & Tumbleweed Saloon.

What can we expect in 2015?

Over-the-top hybrids like the Cronut and Ramen Burger seem to be curtailing, with more emphasis on simplicity and health. Juicing options are getting more plentiful in El Paso with the addition of Mom’s Fresh Juices. Perhaps we’ll see restaurants and bars incorporate juices into cocktails and entrees. In 2014, coffee from regional roasters, Picacho (Las Cruces) and Bldg 6 (El Paso), was served at almost every local restaurant, and The Coffee Box began construction in downtown. If 2014 was the year of coffee, maybe 2015 will be the year of tea, if Tippi Teas’ second location and the arrival of The Tea Spout are indicators.

Frozen yogurt shops are still popping up all over town, but we’re probably going to see more artisan ice cream. A gourmet ice cream food truck is definitely missing from the scene, but the summer did produce two fantastic new options- a paleta cart and an ice cream delivery service. Tasty Pants Paletas could be found at the Downtown Farmers Market and other events peddling balsamic strawberries with black pepper mascarpone cream. Ice Creamed Myself Delivery Service is churning Santa’s milk & cookies this season.

2014 EP Veg Snob Greatest Hits

Pictured: Sweet potato chips @ Tutu’s, spinach pappardelle @ Tosca, vegan pozole @ The Mustard Seed, popcorn @ Steve-o’s, veggie burger @ The Green Ingredient, pinball machines @ Funkmeyer’s Rec Room/Tacoholics

Pozole (Take 2)

Three years later, I am finally updating and sharing a second, more improved pozole recipe. Click here to read Pozole (Take 1). It’s not that I’ve spent all that time trying to perfect it, I just hadn’t revisited making pozole until this year. I sort of forgot about it until some local spots reminded and inspired me to make it again.

My annual El Paso food year in review will soon be published, but until then, here’s a recipe and trend watch report in case you don’t want to go through the trouble of making it yourself. In 2014, El Pasoans were treated to three vegetarian versions of menudo/pozole (the difference is explained in Pozole (Take 1)).

  • Joe, Vinny, & Bronson’s Bohemian Cafe

Both meat & vegan menudo is featured every Sunday. This place has a lot of other veg-friendly menu items; make it a 2015 resolution to try it out. I liked this menudo a lot, but found it a little salty for my taste and wanted more hominy. I liked their use of thinly sliced tofu as a stand-in for the tripe. For $5, you get a good-sized bowl with bread.

Veggie Menudo @ JVB with tofu. The bread looks pale because they had run out of butter that day.

Veggie Menudo @ JVB with tofu. The bread looks pale because they ran out of butter that day.

  • The Mustard Seed Cafe

This was one of my favorite places of 2014. You can’t beat delicious, healthy, AND affordable vegetarian food that supports a great cause (they also have meat options). I love that El Paso now has 2 non-profit eateries (Cafe Mayapan is the other). The downside? Very limited hours of operation (Wed-Fri, 11am-2pm). Also, the menu changes every week, which is fun, but a shame if you missed something like pozole, featured only twice this year. The suggested price (it’s pay-what-you-can) was $2 for a cup and $4 for a bowl that came with all the fixins, and you got to choose between green or red, meat or vegan. I decided on red, and it was very good, although it was more like a stew to me, since it was loaded with veggies.

Red pozole @ The Mustard Seed Cafe

Red pozole @ The Mustard Seed Cafe

Also on the menu was garlicky bread from Belle Sucre, corn & black bean salad, & lime pepita cookies (vegan & baked in-house!)

Also on the menu was GARLICKY bread from Belle Sucre, corn & black bean salad, & lime pepita cookies (vegan & baked in-house!). The bread was delicious, but boy, did I have dragon breath for like days.

  • Eloise

This month, Eloise released a new winter menu that debuted newcomer, Menudont. It’s a large bowl of of hominy and seitanic tripe (seitan is “wheat meat” or meat sub made of vital wheat gluten for you nubes). I have yet to try this one, because it is a whopping $13. I’m sure it’s worth it, as it’s a really big bowl and they make the seitan in-house.

pozole take 2

Pozole @ La Casa de Lisa

The Recipe: Vegan Menudo/Pozole

Tips & Ideas:

  • Meat stand-ins: I never liked the meat in there to begin with, so I don’t add any subs in my recipe. If you really want added texture & protein, try seitan, tofu (maybe frozen & then thawed for a chewier texture), tofu skin (dried bean curd sticks), textured vegetable protein, or shitake mushrooms. My Instagram friend @undeadben1 says he takes sliced tofu and fries it in vegan butter until it’s a little crispy, which adds texture and richness.
  • Chile: I can’t find the dried chile pellets at the farmers market anymore and I’m too lazy to make it from scratch. Bueno brand is my favorite and can be found in the freezer section of most grocery stores. It has no added seasonings. I like using the Special Reserve Premium Red Chile Puree. If you’re going to make your own, all you have to do is remove the stems and seeds from about 4 dried red chiles (guajillo, cascabel, or ancho are the most common used for menudo), submerge them in hot water for about 30 minutes, and blend the chiles, adding enough of the soaking liquid until you get a smooth sauce. Strain it if you don’t want it all cascarudo (as in a bunch of chile skins floating around).
  • Broth: In my opinion, the brand of Edward & Sons Not-Beef boullion cubes are what make my pho and pozole really good.
  • Hominy/Posole: Use canned if you must, but there’s nothing like a slow-simmered soup. The nixtamal is raw and needs to cook for about 2-3 hours, and that’s also what’s going to give you a more authentic broth. Seriously, don’t use canned hominy. Frozen nixtamal is easily found in El Paso grocery stores in the freezer aisle, usually next to the chile or Hispanic products.

This recipe makes a whole pot or about 6 2-cup servings, but you can double it if you’re making it for a big crowd.

8 cups water
4 cups faux beef or vegetable stock (I use 2 Edward & Sons Not-Beef bouillon cubes)
1/2 package (1 lb.) frozen nixtamal (uncooked hominy)
1 14 oz. container of red chile sauce, thawed if frozen
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½-1 teaspoon salt
olive oil

Garnish ideas: lime, shredded cabbage, dried Mexican oregano, crushed red pepper, cilantro, onion, queso fresco, radishes, etc. Don’t forget the buttered and toasted bread.

In a large pot or dutch oven, bring water to a boil and add the rest of the ingredients except for the olive oil. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 1 and half to 2 hours, or until the hominy is cooked. Add more water and salt if necessary. At the end, add a drizzle of olive oil and stir. This will add a bit of greasy richness that the soup is missing from lack of meat.