Turn Thanksgiving Leftovers Into Easy Red Chile and Turkey Pozole

Turn Thanksgiving Leftovers Into Easy Red Chile and Turkey Pozole
Transform your turkey leftovers into a satisfying, full meal soup. (Courtesy of JeanMarie Brownson/TNS)

Turkey leftovers nearly always transform into soup in our house. My father started the tradition by roasting the nearly picked-clean turkey bones before simmering them in a highly seasoned broth with chopped vegetables. Shreds of leftover turkey and crunchy croutons turned the humble beginnings into a satisfying, full-meal soup.

All that goodness came to mind while enjoying an amazing bowl of red pozole at Pozoleria Tia Calla located in Taxco, Mexico. Cooks, as earnest as my dad, chop vegetables to simmer in chile-flavored broths. They add fluffy, chewy corn kernels to make the classic Mexican dish known as pozole. These corn kernels (white or yellow) have undergone a centuries-old process called nixtamalization. That means a long soak in a calcium hydroxide solution to render field corn more digestible and cook-friendly. After the soak, traditional Mexican cooks spend time hand-peeling off the outer hulls of each kernel before they are simmered to tenderness in a rich broth.

Canned hominy is white corn that has undergone the same soaking and tenderizing transformation—super convenient, if not quite as richly corn-flavored as the hand-peeled versions.

Turkey broth, made from the neck and wing tips or the roasted carcass of the holiday bird, forms the base for this hearty soup or stew. Boxed turkey or chicken broth certainly works here, too.

For the red chile, I am partial to soaking ancho chiles in hot water and then pureeing them smooth in a high-speed blender. Powdered ancho chile, found in small packages in the imported aisle of large supermarkets, certainly saves time and yields fine results.

Shred roasted turkey (or chicken or pork) into the finished soup when it is good and hot. Then ladle into wide soup bowls.

Do take the time to assemble the traditional pozole garnishes: shredded cabbage, chopped cilantro, sliced radishes, and fresh lime wedges. Crisp corn tostadas or tortilla chips, broken into the finished soup, add another lovely corn flavor to this bowl of goodness.

White Bean and Hominy Pozole With Turkey

Look for ancho powder in the imported aisles of large supermarkets. Or, substitute chili powder for the ancho powder and cumin.
Makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (or substitute) or bacon drippings
  • 1 medium-size onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup (about 1 1/4 ounces) ancho powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 5 cups turkey (or chicken) broth, see recipe
  • 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (29 ounces) hominy, drained, rinsed
  • 1 can (15 ounces) white beans
  • Salt to taste
For the Garnishes
  • 4 cups shredded cooked turkey (or chicken)
  • 2 to 3 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • 1/2 cup very thinly sliced fresh radishes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • 1 large avocado, halved, pitted, diced
  • Crisp corn tostadas or corn tortilla chips
  • Hot red pepper sauce, optional
To make the turkey broth:

Put 2 turkey wings (split at the joints) or 1 turkey drumstick in a saucepan. Add turkey neck and giblets if you have them (do not use the turkey liver). Add 6 cups water. Heat to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, stirring often, about 1 hour. Strain. Refrigerate for several days or freeze for several months.

To make the pozole:

Heat a 5- or 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil and onion. Cook and stir until onion is golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in garlic, ancho powder, cumin, and oregano; cook and stir for 1 minute. Stir in broth, tomatoes, hominy, beans, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 15 minutes.

Have shredded turkey ready. Arrange cabbage, radishes, cilantro, and lime wedges on a large platter. Add diced avocado and tostadas to platter.

Just before serving, make sure soup is hot. Stir in turkey. Season to taste with salt.

Ladle soup into wide bowls. Pass garnishes to stir into soup. Crumble tostadas or corn chips into the soup. Squeeze lime overall. Serve with hot sauce if desired.

JeanMarie Brownson is a James Beard Award-winning author and the recipient of the IACP Cookbook Award for her latest cookbook, “Dinner at Home.” JeanMarie, a chef and authority on home cooking, Mexican cooking and specialty food, is one of the founding partners of Frontera Foods. She co-authored three cookbooks with chef Rick Bayless, including “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” JeanMarie has enjoyed developing recipes and writing about food, travel and dining for more than four decades. ©2022 JeanMarie Brownson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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