Garlic and Pasilla Chile Soup

This Mexican chile pepper is called “Chilaca” when used fresh. In California the Poblano chile is often called Pasilla. Since most of these are bought and distributed from California this mislabeling often carries over into the supermarkets nationwide causing alot of confusion. This chile is very mild and is usually consumed in the dry form to make the famous Mexican ‘mole’ sauces.

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3 large dried pasilla chiles
1 quart hot water
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
1 large tomato, cut into 1″ dice
1/2 tsp. dried oregano, preferably Mexican
1 cup 1/2″ dice of country bread or baguette
1/4 cup creme fraiche or sour cream
1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2″ dice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves


In a large bowl, cover the chiles with the hot water; set a small plate over the chiles to keep them submerged. Let soak until softened, about 20 minutes. Strain and reserve the soaking liquid. Stem, seed and coarsely chop the chiles.

Preheat the oven to 400F. In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp. of the oil ands add the onion and garlic. Cook over moderate heat until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the chopped chiles and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add the tomato, oregano, a pinch of salt and the strained chile soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Cover the soup and simmer gently over low heat for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a cake pan, toss the diced baguette with the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and spread in an even layer. Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender. Return the soup to the saucepan, bring to a simmer and season with salt. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with the crmme fraiche, avocado, cilantro leaves and croutons and serve.

Recipe by Jean-Claude Szurdak from “Jacques in Mexico” in the July, 2006 issue of Food and Wine Magazine.