By Luke Chavez
The Times 

Turkey Pozole

My Recipes|Luke Chavez


November 24, 2022

Luke Chavez

Turkey Pozole

The day after Thanksgiving you can always find me back in the kitchen, enjoying the peaceful quiet after the holiday, and making a batch of turkey stock. As the kitchen fills with the rich aromas coming from a bubbling stock pot, I like to make plans for the versatile leftover turkey meat. Following an indulgent day full of butter and heavy foods, a pot of brightly flavored soup is a welcome meal choice. One favorite option is this variation on a traditional Mexican soup called Pozole. The deep earthy flavors of dried chilies are combined with sweet hominy in a nourishing broth. This soup is a beautiful celebration of ingredients native to the Americas; chilies, maize, and of course, turkey. A lovely way to be thankful for the contributions indigenous cultures have made to our culinary culture.


5 dried ancho chilies

5 dried guajillo chilies

3 dried arból chilies, (optional, for spicier soup)

½ white onion, quartered

3 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 25-ounce cans of white hominy, drained and rinsed

3 bay leaves

1 tablespoon cumin

1 to 2 pounds leftover turkey, about 4 cups

6 to 8 cups turkey stock, homemade or store-bought

Juice of one lime


For serving:

½ head of cabbage, shredded

1 white onion, diced

1 bunch cilantro leaves, chopped

6 radishes, thin sliced

4 limes, quartered


Remove the stems, seeds, and veins from the chilies. Place the chilies, ½ white onion, and garlic cloves in a large pot. Add just enough water to barely cover the chilies, about 3 to 4 cups. Bring to a boil then tun off the heat. Allow chilies to soften and reconstitute for 15 minutes. Next, add the chilies, garlic, onion, the soaking liquid, and the oregano to a blender jar. Blend until smooth for 1 minute. Strain the chili base though a mesh strainer over a bowl. Use a rubber spatula to gently press all the liquid out to the pulp. This will take a few minutes of time and patience. Discard the pulp.

Using the same large pot that you boiled the chilies, heat 3 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Pour in the strained chili base and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 30 minutes until the base has thickened and darkened in color.

While the chili base is cooking prepare the hominy. Add the rinsed hominy, and bay leaves to a large soup pot and cover with 2 inches of water. Bring to a simmer, add a pinch of salt, and allow to cook uncovered while you prepare everything else.

Remove any bones and skin from the turkey meat, and shred into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.

Assemble soup. Pour the prepared chili base into the soup pot with the hominy. Stir in the cumin and shredded turkey. Season with a couple pinches of salt and add 4 to 6 cups of the turkey stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and gently simmer uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes. Add more broth as it reduces. Take off the heat and add the lime juice. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt as needed. Serve immediately or keep warm on low heat until ready. Serve in large bowls with plates of garnish on the table to allow guests to fix it up as they like.


Don't let the amount of dried chilies scare you. The spice is very mild and balanced by the richness of the turkey. To ensure this, make sure you take the time to remove all the seeds and veins from the dried chilies. When working with dried chilies, it is helpful to wear gloves, and remember to avoid touching your eyes or face until you have washed your hands.

The fresh raw vegetables used to garnish the top of the soup are an integral part of the flavor profile. You could also add chopped avocado to the options. Have the fresh garnishes arranged on a large platter for passing, or if serving a crowd have smaller plates of the garnishes available on either end of the table. I like to serve this soup with soft homemade tortillas for dipping. Tortilla chips would also be good. Enjoy!


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