Vegan Menudo with Mexican Oregano and Morels
Vegan Menudo?! If you are more of a traditionalist when it comes to your culinary exploits, then this recipe is not for you. If you don’t already know why, then keep reading to learn about what Menudo is.
What is Menudo?
Menudo is a spicy Mexican soup known for the use of a questionable main ingredients—beef tripe and feet. Beef tripe is one of those ingredients that is either adored or despised by those who have tried it. For many folks though, the mere thought of eating the edible lining of a cow’s stomach sends their own stomach into a tumbling routine fit for the Olympic trials.
If you are one of those who would rather not venture into tripe consumption, that’s perfectly fine with us, but we don’t think anyone should have to miss out on the comfort and exceptional flavors of this soup, so we’ve concocted our own tripeless (and feetless) version of this Mexican classic. Plus, it’s both vegan and gluten free!
How is Menudo Made?
Menudo is actually incredibly simple to make and requires very few ingredients. Like most comfort foods circulating the globe, this Mexican soup is both economical and delicious. There are infinite versions that have been passed down as family recipes, but they typically fall into one of two categories: Menudo Rojo and Menudo Blanco.
Both versions of Menudo are made with the same basic ingredients to start—onion, garlic, spices, and beef. These ingredients are simmered to create a rich broth. With Menudo Rojo, the broth is typically blended with red chile peppers to add heat and flavor.
The traditional process of making Menudo isn’t difficult, but it does take a long time. The beef parts and fragrant ingredients must be simmered for several hours and the chiles roasted. Making our Menudo vegan, eliminated some of the hours involved, but we wanted to go easier still. So we bought store-bought roasted red bell peppers to add to the thickness and flavor and incorporated some heat with our pasilla chile powder.
How do you Make Menudo Vegan?
Menudo is loved, in part, because of the texture of the tripe and because of the silky texture provided by the fat and collagen from the beef. Recreating the texture of the tripe was easy. Morel mushrooms contribute a similar, spongy bite as the tripe, so we rehydrated dried Morchella to add to our soup and for a bit more flavor and substance, we also incorporated dried porcini. We then used the mushroom rehydration liquid for blending our roasted red peppers and pasilla powder, which contributed additional thickness and a sweet and spicy balance. We were still missing that silky, almost gelatinous texture, though. To mimic the collagen that can only be found in animal products, we used a combination of file powder and red seaweed powder (agar agar). The result—a comforting vegan replica of a Mexican soup known the world over for curing hangovers!
Vegan Menudo Rojo with Morel Mushrooms
- Olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, chopped
- 1 teaspoon Mexican Oregano
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 teaspoon file powder
- 1 teaspoon red seaweed powder (Agar Agar)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon fresh cracked peppercorns
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground cumin
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup roasted red peppers
- 2 teaspoons pasilla powder
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 2 ounces dried porcini mushrooms, rehydrated in 1 cup water, liquid reserved
- 2 ounces dried morel mushrooms, rehydrated in 1 cup water,, liquid reserved
- 1 cup white hominy
- For topping: radish, onion, cilantro, lime wedges (any or all)
- Heat your pot over medium-low and add your olive oil.
- Add in the onion and Mexican oregano and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
- Add the garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
- Stir in the file powder, seaweed powder, cumin, sea salt, and fresh cracked pepper.
- Pour in the vegetable broth slowly, ensuring all spices are fully incorporated into the liquid.
- Drop in your bay leaf and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, slice your mushrooms. For the morels, you’ll want to first cut off the stem, leaving it in a ring. Then, slice it lengthwise down the middle. The porcinis should be sliced in ¾-inch pieces.
- Gently sauté the mushrooms in a bit of olive oil with a sprinkle of salt. Set aside.
- Pour the rehydration liquid into a blender or food processor, along with the red peppers, pasilla chile powder, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.
- Use a fine mesh strainer to pour the pepper purée in with the broth, gently scraping with a spatula to ensure the silky texture is added, but any bits of unwanted pepper skin or seeds are left behind.
- Add your hominy and mushrooms to the soup and stir.
- Simmer for an additional 5 minutes and serve with desired toppings.