"This garlic soup is similar to one I enjoyed in a restaurant in the town of Playa del Carmen, where we owned a vacation apartment for several years. The soup can be made with ancho or guajillo peppers, but I chose pasilla peppers, which are long black dried chilies with crinkled skin. (These are called chilaca peppers when fresh.) They have a complex taste and smell of chocolate, tobacco, and earth. Lots of garlic, onions, tomato, olive oil, and a bit of flavorful Mexican oregano complete the ingredient list.
"The soup should be emulsified in a blender so it’s smooth, and you can strain it if you object to eating tiny pieces of chili pepper skin. I garnish the soup with croutons and pieces of avocado and some thick Mexican crema (sour cream or crème fraîche is fine too) to help cut the fiery taste of the chilies." --Jacques Pépin
Recipe: Garlic and Pasilla Soup
Serves 4 (makes 8 cups)
- 4 to 5 dried pasilla chili
- peppers (about 2 ounces)
- 3 cups diced (1-inch) onions
- 2 heads garlic, peeled, separated into cloves, and crushed (about 20 cloves)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 cups diced (1-inch) tomatoes (about 11/2 pounds)
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1/4 cup Mexican crema, if available, crème fraîche, or sour cream
- 4 fresh cilantro sprigs
- 1 cup croutons
- Soak the chilies in 8 cups water for a couple of hours, until softened.
- Remove the chilies from the water, reserving the soaking liquid. Remove and discard the stems and seeds and coarsely chop the chilies. (You should have a good cup.) Strain the soaking liquid and set it aside.
- Sauté the onions and garlic in the olive oil in a large saucepan for 3 to 4 minutes, until blond in color. Add the chopped chili peppers and cook for about 1 minute, then add the tomatoes, reserved soaking liquid, oregano, and salt to taste. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, partially cover, and boil gently for 30 minutes.
Recipe from Heart & Soul in the Kitchen by Jacques Pépin. Copyright © 2015 by Jacques Pépin. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.