Ingredients:

  • 1 large dried pasilla (negro) chile, stemmed and seeded
  • 115-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2quarts veggies broth
  • 1 large cilantro or epazote sprig, if you have one
  • 1 large ripe avocado, pitted, flesh scooped from the skin and cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 1/2cups (6 ounces) shredded Mexican melting cheese (like Chihuahua, or asadero)
  • A generous 4 cups (about 6 ounces) roughly broken tortilla chips
  • 1/2 cup Mexican crema, sour cream or creme fraîche for garnish
  • 1large lime, cut into 6 wedges, for serving

Directions:

Heat the oil in a medium (4-quart) saucepan over medium-high. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, and transfer to the blender. Process until smooth. Quickly toast the chile by turning it an inch or two above an open flame for a few seconds until its aroma fills the kitchen. (Lacking an open flame, toast it in a dry pan over medium heat, pressing it flat for a few seconds, then flipping it over and pressing it again.) Break the chile into pieces and put in a blender jar along with the tomatoes with their juice. (A food processor will work, though it won’t completely puree the chile.)

Return the pan to medium-high heat. When quite hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes. Add the broth and epazote, if using. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about a generous teaspoon.

Just before serving, add the broth. Divide the avocado, cheese and tortilla chips between serving bowls.  Garnish with the crema.