Savor vegetarian posole, made with pumpkin and black beans.

Savor vegetarian posole, made with pumpkin and black beans. (Photo/”Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet” by Terry Hope Romero. Republished courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.)

A healthy idea: vegetarian Mexican posole

Many nutritionists say the same thing: being healthy is all about making smart decisions about what you consume rather than entirely depriving yourself of foods you love in short-term diets. And as it turns out, many foods central to the Latin diet are inherently healthy, rich with vitamin-packed vegetables and good-for-you grains. Take, for example, Mexican posole – a brothy, savory soup traditionally made with pork, hominy, plenty of chile and topped with plenty of crisp green cabbage and radishes. Sounds delicious, right? As cookbook author and television personality Terry Hope Romero will tell you, this is just one of many dishes that home cooks can easily adapt to for a healthy lifestyle.

Cookbook author Terry Hope Romero

Cookbook author Terry Hope Romero

“Posole is a great example of a traditional dish that can be made really healthy with just a few tweaks,” says Romero, who is a practicing vegan. “This soup isn’t about the pork; it’s about the contrast of crunchy, delicious vegetables and spicy broth – and by playing that up, it really becomes a super healthy meal.”

Romero’s version of Mexican red posole incorporates pumpkin (“it’s a really hearty vegetable that brings that meaty texture that people might otherwise miss,” says the New York City-based foodie), fiber-rich black beans, toothsome hominy and plenty of savory spices like oregano, chile, cumin and fragrant cinnamon. Simmer the soup until the pumpkin is fork tender and then load up on the fun toppings – think thinly shredded cabbage, crispy tortilla strips, creamy avocado, rounds of jalapeño and toasted pumpkin seeds – for a meal that’s a delightful (and healthy!) blend of textures and flavors. After all says Romero, “being healthy isn’t about restricting yourself to plain tofu – it’s about drawing inspiration from the world around you and eating wholesome meals.”

Straight from the pages of Romero’s second solo cookbook “Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet” – a collection of mouth-watering vegetarian recipes from across the globe – here’s the recipe for Pumpkin Black Bean Posole Stew.

Pumpkin Black Bean Posole Stew

From “Vegan Eats World: 300 International Recipes for Savoring the Planet” by Terry Hope Romero. Reprinted courtesy of Da Capo Lifelong Books.

Serves 4 to 6

1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced

6 cups vegetable broth

1 1/2 pounds pumpkin or winter squash, peeled and seeds removed, diced into 1-inch cubes

One 16-ounce can hominy, drained and rinsed

Two 14-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or 4 cups cooked beans)

4 teaspoons chile powder, either a blend or a single Mexican chile such as ancho

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 bay leaves

2 tablespoons lime juice

Toppings

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 ripe avocado, diced

1 small red onion, peeled and finely diced

1 jalapeño, sliced into paper-thin rounds

2 cups thinly shredded cabbage

Long strips of fried corn tortillas or chips (blue corn looks especially snappy)

1 cup roughly chopped cilantro

1/3 cup toasted pumpkin seeds

Wedges of lime for squeezing into the soup

1. In a large soup pot over medium heat fry the onion in the olive oil until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and fry for another 45 seconds, then add the vegetable broth, diced pumpkin, hominy, black beans, chile powder, oregano, cumin, cinnamon, and bay leaves. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, stir, then reduce the heat to a low simmer and partially cover. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the pumpkin is tender but not completely falling apart. Turn off the heat, keep covered, and let stand while you prepare the toppings. Remove the bay leaves before serving.

2. Before serving, stir in the lime juice and taste the soup, adding more salt if necessary. To serve, ladle the soup into deep bowls and garnish generously with the toppings, ending with the toasted pumpkin seeds. Serve with lime wedges for posole fans to squeeze into their soup!

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