I had posole for the first time as a high schooler living abroad in Cuernavaca. Most weekends, my friends and would go to bars with my host mother, and she would get us drunk on cheap tequila. On one particular hungover morning, she loaded me into the back of her Jeep, took me to a restaurant in the mall, and ordered me my first bowl of posole. The space was drab and cramped, and there wasn't even a menu, but that posole brought me back to life. t was nourishing like a cup of broth on a sick day—bright with lime, rich from the chiles and pork. It was soup, plain and simple. And in that moment it was everything I wanted.Before posole was my hangover cure, it was a ceremonial dish for ancient Aztecs—corn was considered a sacred crop. Pork was added later when the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century and brought over pigs. These days, the stew is found all across Mexico, typically made by families on weekends or special occasions because there's a lot of labor involved—from cooking the pork to making the chile sauce to the nixtamalization of the corn (soaking it in pickling lime so the kernel softens and sheds its skin).Posole is the choose-your-own-adventure of Mexican cuisine. Start with a stew speckled with chewy bits of hominy and seasoned with lime and braised pork. Depending on the region, that soup could be green from jalapeños and tomatillos (if you're in Guerrero) or red from guajillo or ancho chiles (in areas such as Mexico City and Jalisco). Then, choose from a selection of toppings: finely chopped onions, sliced avocado, lime, radishes, lettuce, queso fresco. Go big, or keep it simple. That's the true beauty of posole: No two bowls look or taste exactly alike.
Prepare soup through Step 6; cool soup, cover, and chill up to 3 days. Prepare garnishes for Step 7 just before serving. Rewarm soup gently before serving with garnishes.
Soaking dried chiles draws out their flavor, including bitterness, if prevalent. If the resulting liquid is sweet, incorporate it into the dish. Discard it if it tastes bitter.