Sopa de Chile Ancho

The Olympics are over and I'm actually kind of thankful. It was so much fun, but it wreaked havoc on my schedule.

The new house has this upstairs loft-ish space where the ceiling slopes down on both sides and you can only stand up straight in the very middle. And this is where we have our only television. The problem is we don't have any furniture up there, just an old air mattress with about ten or eleven slow leaks. So, by the end of NBC's clumsy prime time coverage, I had completely sunken to the floor, was alone—as Matt had gone to bed hours ago—and in some strange, gold medal trance from which I couldn't completely snap out of until I'd read enough articles to put me to sleep, which was usually around 1:30am. But, like anything you throw yourself completely into, it was great while it lasted.

Speaking of obsession, I love hot peppers. This time, I bring them to you in soup form.

Talk about a weird recipe though. I was constantly second guessing myself. First, when toasting the dried peppers in a hot, oil-less pan. Then, when adding whole tomatoes, two cloves of garlic, and an uncut onion to that hot pot, which I was supposed to "turn as needed, until blackened all over, about 10 minutes." Is that not abnormal? (The recipe calls for four plum tomatoes, but those little red and yellow guys pictured below are from our tomato plants and as if I wasn't going to use them.)
The onion felt too big to get blackened on all sides, so I cut it in half. The tomatoes never blackened. Thus, at this point, I really didn't think the recipe was going to turn out.
And then when I puréed the dried, water-soaked, seeded chiles with the semi-blackened vegetables, and the mixture would barely go through the strainer, I was convinced this recipe was going to fail.
But, just like Jordyn Wieber, after her disappointment (understatement!) in the prelims, I kept my head together, focused on the task at hand and went out there and hit my Amanar vault. Or, in other words, I'd thankfully held on to the portion of the chile mixture that wouldn't go through the strainer and added a few tablespoons of it to the finished broth, which definitely needed it.
Next, I seasoned it with salt and pepper until it tasted really good. Then I poured the broth over tortilla chips, queso fresco, avocado, cilantro, and a bit of creme fraiche. 
Suddenly, what was once merely acceptable, became delicious. Very delicious.
The pan, on the other hand, was like going out of bounds on your double arabian, stag leap combo. Huge deduction.
But friends, I can't possibly publish this post without showing you one last photo. Please welcome the newest addition to the Bon Appétempt family: Mavis, the cutest dog in the whole world! And I guarantee this won't be the last you see of this sweet girl. (She's asleep in the corner as I type this, vividly dreaming and squeaking!) (I mean, c'mon!) (I saw her eat an ant yesterday.)
Sopa de Chile Ancho via Saveur
3 dried ancho chiles (available at marxfoods.com)
4 medium plum tomatoes
2 cloves garlic
1 small white onion
½ cup canola oil
8 small dried pasilla chiles (optional, for serving; available at marxfoods.com)
8 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 cup queso fresco (available at mexgrocer.com), crumbled
8 sprigs cilantro, finely chopped
½ cup crema (available at mexgrocer.com) or sour cream
1 avocado, very thinly sliced
Fried tortilla strips, for garnish

1. Heat a 6-qt. Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ancho chiles, and cook, turning once, until lightly toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, pour over 1 cup boiling water, and let sit until soft, about 30 minutes; drain chiles, reserving soaking liquid, and remove and discard stems and seeds. Transfer chiles to a blender and set aside. Return pot to heat, and add tomatoes, garlic, and onion; cook, turning as needed, until blackened all over, about 10 minutes. Transfer to blender, and purée until smooth, at least 4 minutes. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl, and set chile purée aside.

2. Return saucepan to heat and add ¼ cup oil; add pasilla chiles, if using, and fry, turning once, until crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and let cool. Discard oil and wipe pan clean.

3. Return pan to medium-high heat, and add remaining oil. When hot, add chile purée, and fry, stirring constantly, until slightly reduced, about 6 minutes. Add stock, and bring to a boil; remove from heat, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm.

4. Divide cheese and cilantro among serving bowls, and then ladle soup over each. Top each with a dollop of crema, a few slices of avocado, and some tortilla strips; garnish with a fried pasilla chile, if you like.
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Matthew said...

I loved this soup! Like seriously loved. Also, I love Mavis. She wins gold at the cutie pie olympics.

sara said...

Mavis! SO cute. Please feature her in a video stat.

Also, this soup looks amazing. When I saw the first picture I almost wanted to make it right now, despite the fact that it's 10:22pm and I have a teething toddler that will probably wake up screaming any minute. After seeing that pan, though...oh man. That pan is the kind of thing I spend my life desperately trying to avoid.

joanna said...

i would eat this soup every day if i could. it looks GOOD.

congrats on mavis! she's precious! can she do a double arabian, stag leap combo? i thought so.


Mary Anne said...

wait... Marxfoods.com?

Anonymous said...


Colleen said...

It is 5 am here and I just got home from work. I looked at the picture of that soup and wanted to make it right now even with the yucky pan at the end (boiling the pot with water and some salt in it will loosen up the stuff stuck on the bottom btw). As for Mavis she is precious. What kind of dog (or kinds) is she and she must be featured from now on!!!!

Bluegrass said...

Congratulations on the adorable puppy! Your blog always makes my week better -- it's kind of embarrassing how often I check for new posts.

Ileana said...

Mavis! What a great name.

Andrea said...


Katherine @ eggton said...

I'm trying to think if I have EVER seen a blackened tomato, and I think the answer is no. I think they'd kind of explode before blackening, you know?

Also, what the heck with those tomato plants, girl? I get, like, 6 cherry tomatoes per week from mine. On different days. So every couple of nights we throw 2 teeny tomatoes into our salad and hope there are no worms in there. It's. . . not the same as what's going on at your house.

Mary Anne said...

Not to sound like a tomato know-it-all, but I just happened to blacken tomatoes the other night under the broiler. Took about 5 minutes, then I flipped them and let them blacken another 5 minutes.

Kara said...

Ants are delish. Go Mavis + new parents

Mark & Marsha said...

We are looking forward to Mavis' first attempt. She is beautiful. So is the Sopa.

Bookdwarf said...

I miss the Olympics but agree that my sleep schedule is all the better for them being over.

Mavis is adorbs!

Melanie said...

A) Your toms look amazing B) Mavis is SO cute. More pictures PLEASE.

Eileen said...

Well, even though that recipe sounds pretty frustrating, the results look amazing! Also: PUPPY PUPPY PUPPY.

amelia said...

Saraa! you should also know that I served this soup with your famous, hand-shredded mexican slaw!!

amelia said...

sidebar: Mavis loves my Moroccan slippers!

amelia said...

Thanks, Colleen! She's a Havanese and don't worry, I don't think *not* featuring her is really an option for me! :)

amelia said...

Well, you just made my week better!! Thank you!!

amelia said...

wow, Mary Anne. You've become a total tomato know-it-all. congrats!

Matthew said...

Katherine: Our tomato plants were there when we moved -- they are overgrown and crazy and might be magical b/c we don't do anything but occasionally water them and talk about cutting them back. The grow tons of giant yellow, red and green cherry tomatoes.

Mary Anne: You sound a little like a tomato know-it-all.

sg said...

awww sweet Mavis!

Judi said...

I will not scream Puppy Face I will not scream Puppy Face. CHILES!!!!

Carmen said...

soup looks awesome. mavis - awesomer. that pot looks like the fancy kind that cleans pretty easily (i have exactly one of those) and even if it doesn't clean that easily, it looks like it was worth it

Dave said...

Who said that the soup is not regular meal?! well this proved the opposite. "But friends, I can't possibly publish this post without showing you one last photo. Please welcome the newest addition to the Bon Appétempt family: Mavis" Welcome Mavis :)

Alex said...

One look at the non-blackening onion would have sent me into a downward diva spiral a la Aliya Mustafina. You really Kerri Strugged it through to the end and came out with a pure gold chile soup! It's beautiful! Mavis is adorable!

Matthew said...

Wow. Well done, Ali.

Laura said...

I've made soups like this before--and I find them stressful too! I usually cheat at various steps and I never put them through the strainer (as far as I can tell you are just wasting fiber so I have never understood that instruction, plus I figure we don't strain the curry paste out in Thai curry). Anyway, kudos on a great soup and an amusing post! :)

stella josphine said...

Very spice soup and thanks for sharing the blog.Keep on update your spice blog.

domy drewniane