- 3 large dried pasilla chiles
- 1 quart hot water
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 head garlic, cloves peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 large tomato, cut into 1-inch dice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
- 1 cup 1/2-inch dice of country bread or baguette
- 1/4 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 Hass avocado, cut into 1/2-inch 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 400°. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the onion and garlic and 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 tablespoon 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 crème fraîche, avocado, cilantro leaves and croutons and serve.
Dried purple-black pasillas give this soup a chocolaty note, ideal with a rich, mocha-inflected red from the south of France. The Costières de Nîmes region, just south of the Rhône Valley, is known for its robust red blends with Syrah and Grenache.