In Mexico, sopa seca, or dry soup, is served as a pasta course would be in Italy. This recipe for Sopa Seca de Fideo con Chile Ancho comes from "Libro di Cocina" by Jules Gouffé, published in Mexico in 1893.
Serve this dish as a separate course or lunch dish. The avocado, cheese and limes that accompany it are a necessary counterbalance to the ancho chiles. Try serving it also with crumbled feta chorizo and a dollop of crème fraîche.
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4 ancho chiles—stems, seeds, and veins removed
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or water
2 whole cloves
1 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1/8 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 ounces angel hair pasta or very fine vermicelli, preferably in nests or skeins
1/3 cup finely grated queso añejo or Romano cheese, avocado slices and quartered limes
In a nonreactive medium sauce-pan, cover the chiles with water and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let soak until soft, 5 more minutes. Drain.
Pour 1/4 cup of the chicken stock into the blender, add the cloves, garlic and cumin seeds and blend until smooth. Season with salt. Add 1 more cup of the stock and the drained chiles, a few at a time, and blend until smooth, adding more stock if necessary.
Heat the oil in a large heavy saucepan. Add the pasta and fry, turning, until it has turned a deep golden color, about 3 minutes (keep the nests intact). Strain off excess oil.
Add the blended sauce to the pasta in the skillet and fry over moderate heat for about 3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking. Cover and cook over low heat, adding the remaining stock a little at a time to prevent sticking, until the pasta is just cooked through, 5 to 8 minutes.
Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with the cheese and serve with the avocado and limes.