Food Crusade: Holy Posole

Sharon Ely believes in peace and hominy through her homemade bottled posole


For the uninitiated, what is posole?
Posole,(pozole pasole, pazole) people spell it all kinds of ways, i choose POSOLE. To me posole is a warm bowl of liquid gold to heal the heart, but to be historically and scientifically clear I can say that it is an ancient soup from columbia made of corn/hominy, spices, tomatoes, and green and red chiles with added pork, chicken or beef, or even eaten without any meat products as a vegetarian dish. over the years it has evolved into a staple spicey corn/hominy soup that most mexican restaurants  serve in new mexico . It is a ceremony soup so at weddings or Christmas or New Years , like black eyed peas in the south, the posole is served for good luck in the southwest. I ,like other  people that make posole , have my own special recipe that I serve to people, and it really seems to work for a lot of people. In other words, the soup has a healing effect on most people to cure people of whatever  they may have, ie: a broken heart, a cold, a hangover, or even some people have said it helped them get over the flu!!!

You were first inspired in Santa Fe by a steaming pot of posole that was supposedly a 100-year old recipe… who was cooking the posole?

After my husband Joe Ely and I had driven from Austin Texas , 14 hours to Santa Fe to get to our friend, Michael Ventura's wedding, we arrived at my friends house , Deborah Milosevich late one evening. Tired and hungry she fed us some of the special soup she was making for the wedding. She had gotten the recipe from a neighbor that was 100 years old and had cooked posole in Santa Fe all of her life. When we tasted this soup , i was awakened to new energy and felt so at home. I knew i had to have this recipe to serve to all of my friends from then on. She gave me a recipe that I have since then evolved into a more natural ingredients soup, no MSG from chicken boulilon cubes, less sodium using natural chicken broth, Chimayo chile, a sweet pungent tasting chile from a region near Santa Fe, and naturally grown green chiles and tomatoes. I deleted some things and added some other things to essentially make it my own recipe, but it is an ancient soup, this soup, just to clarify, is more than 100 years old is an ancient recipe from South America and beyond,  and I am so grateful to my friend Deb and the 100 year old lady , now 130yr. old....(and probably not alive, but her soup is! )to give this recipe to me to share with the world.

Did you find out that actual recipe or any of its details?

I was given the recipe which was scrawlled on a napkin, and took it  back home and made it in a large pot for my family and friends. This was a beginning of a new romance with this soup that has become part of my life since  30 years ago. The soup contained a lot of sodium from the chicken boullion cubes  which the recipe called for at least 10 or 15 cubes!!! I reduced the amount by using a different source of  natural chicken broth. I changed the additive meat from pork to chicken sometimes and eventually even deleted the meat altogether and just merely added the natural chicken broth instead. This is where I have my soup today in jars, and now people who buy my soup can add whatever meat or vegetable they want , but will find the base soup very good without any additives of their own.   

Your own recipe has taken 30 years to develop. How has it changed since you first started?

My soup is now a more natural and healthy soup but with the same incredible wonderful magical taste!

What's the deal with the heirloom red and green chiles that boast miracle-working properties? Is there anything to this and they are indeed used in your posole?

Yes, there is something about the red and green chile that we use from Chimayo, New Mexico. If one has ever gone to this region, up above Santa Fe and eaten any of the chile there, you would have discovered an amazing different taste of red chile. It is definitely sweeter and possibly more intense and nutrituous because of the rich soil it is grown in as well as the climate of high altitude , dry sunny but cool weather. There is a very old church there, possibly hundreds of years old, and for America that is considered ancient, that has a special hole in the ground where people come to put the healing dirt on their bodies for special healing. There are crutches hanging on the walls for proof that the dirt and prayers healed people. I figure if the chile is grown from this same dirt , then possibly there is healing power in the chiles as well. I know I have heard so many testimonies to my posole saying it healed there many illnesses and woes, like a broken heart or a bad back or a dreadful hangover.

What's the secret to making a great posole?

The secrets to making a great posole is to make it with love and to make it with very good nutritious ingredients and to  make it the day before serving , so all of the spices and vegetables and broth can "marry" together, as one would say...I would say to make sure your time to make this soup is a good time, and to use all natural ingredients if at all possible.

What were the challenges of making posole to be bottled and distributed?

The challenges to make this soup match my home cooked soup in the factory were many. The main challenge was to find the proper factory to cook my soup in. After travelling all over Texas and serving my soup to heads of different factories, we finally visited a place in Dallas that took on the challenges of a soup that was rarely made. Putting hominy into a glass jar , and to have this be equal portions for each jar was the biggest challenge. Working with the wonderful people at the Bartush Factory and by their knowledge of how things work, we eventually came to a beautiful jar of Holy Posole that I was ecstatic to have made into truckloads of soup  to be shipped to 49 HEB Texas grocery store . This all took some time and patience and none of us gave up, which would have been easy to do.I would also like to add that being very fanatical about using certain ingredients is imperative. They always want to get the cost down by using cheaper less delicious products and I refused to allow them to use anything but the best, thus a product that tastes good , but may be a little higher in price. Never the less, I believe this is one reason the soup does taste great!

You've sent your posole to David Letterman, Garrison Keillor and food critics across the country. How have these celebrities or any others responded to you Holy Posole Crusade?

Well , Garrison opened the jar up immediately and stuck his finger in it and tatsed it cold. The soup is ready to eat right out of the jar so I was thrilled when he said he really liked it. Robert Duval served it for New Years after Van Redin, a film photographer, gave it to him and his wife. They all loved serving it for their New Years Eve party for 2012. I am waiting response from David Letterman, but it would be great to serve his entire audiance some HOLY POSOLE  and have him and his crew and his audiance all say "HOLY POSOLE!" at the end of the show.....We'll see what happens. Also Tom russell , the great songwriter, bought a case of it and said he was taking it across the border to Jarez to free the people there. He coined my slogan"Peace Through Posole and Harmony through Hominy!"

Where is it available to be purchased?

Right now , if you live in Texas , you can buy my soup at 49 of the largest HEB grocery stores. I also sell this online 1 jar at a time,and it will be shipped to your own home or business. I intend to work ferventally all year to have this placed in many more grocery stores across America. PEACE THROUGH POSOLE AND HARMONY THROUGH HOMINY!