chile de arbolsoupmushrooms

A comfy soup for the still chilly nights

While most of us in DC have stacked our winter clothes up in the attic or inside a trunk, the truth is, it’s still a bit chilly. So today I made this mushroom soup, yet again. I should be tired of it already, since I just cooked 100 portions of it for last Friday’s cooking class at the Institute and I had tested it for weeks… But here I go.. It is just too good!

It is not your typical soup at all. It has the woody and earthy feel of the mushrooms, but their flavor is somehow enhanced by the chile de árbol. It may sound strange, since one would think that chiles mask the flavor of ingredients. But depending on how you use them, they can pronounce rather than overpower other flavors.

Although the chile de árbol is quite spicy, in this soup you can taste its depth but not its heat, since they are browned but never opened. This is one of the subtle ways to use them, as the seeds and veins which contain most of the heat are bundled up inside throughout the cooking.

Luckily, these chiles can be found almost anywhere these days. Like other dried chiles, they are a very smart staple to incorporate into your pantry since they last forever, they are filled with Vitamin A (great excuse to indulge…) and they can enrich your home cooking immensely.

The soup has a flavorful roasted tomato base. You can buy the already roasted tomatoes, but down below I tell you how to roast or char them yourself. It takes no more than 10 minutes, it is rather simple and it gives the soup a nice rustic feel. I include the epazote in the end, but if you don’t find it don’t worry, it is optional. It just gives it a nice accent.

It takes about 25 minutes to make this soup. Go for it! You can make a double batch and reheat it the next day for lunch, accompanied with some sliced toasted baguette or bolillo, and a slice of ripe Mexican avocado on top.

Mushroom, Chile de Arbol, and Roasted Tomato Soup

Sopa de Hongos con Tomate y Chile de Arbol

Recipe Yield

4 to 6 people

Cooking time

40 minutes

Rate this recipe

5 from 3 votes


  • 1 1/2 pound, or 6 to 7, ripe roma/guaje tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup white onion roughly chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves peeled
  • 2 tablespoons safflower or corn oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 chiles de arbol
  • 2 pounds mushrooms rinsed and sliced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt or to taste
  • 8 cups chicken broth homemade or storebought
  • 2 fresh epazote sprigs may substitue for dried, optional
  • 1 ripe Mexican avocado peeled and sliced
  • 1 or 2 bolillos or small baguettes sliced and toasted, optional

To Prepare

  • Char the tomatoes, onion and garlic, by placing them in a single layer on a baking sheet under the broiler. Alternatively, you can char them on the grill or on a hot comal, the traditional way. Whichever method you choose, tomatoes will take between 6 to 9 minutes, and the onion and garlic between 3 to 4 minutes. Turn them around halfway through.
  • Tomatoes are ready when they are completely cooked through, mushy and their skin is charred, blistered and wrinkled. Garlic and onion will have also charred and softened.
  • Place charred tomatoes, onion and garlic in the blender and puree until smooth. In a pot, heat one tablespoon of the oil and the butter over medium heat until butter starts to bubble. Add Chiles de Arbol and sautee for a couple minutes, turning them around, until they are lightly browned and crisp.
  • Add sliced mushrooms, sprinkle with salt, cover the pot and let them steam for 5 minutes.
  • In a soup pot, add a tablespoon of oil and heat over medium high heat. Stir the tomato puree into the pot. For a smoother feel, you can place a strainer on top of the soup pot, and strain the tomato puree into the pot. Let the puree simmer, season and thicken for about 4 to 5 minutes. Its color will darken and become deeper.
  • Stir in the chicken broth and simmer for 5 more minutes. Incorporate the mushrooms along with the chiles. Add the fresh epazote sprigs, if you want, and let it all simmer 5 more minutes. Taste for salt and add more if need be.
  • Serve very hot. If you wish, add a slice of avocado on top of each bowl of soup. It can be eaten with a side of toasted bolillos or baguettes as well.


8comments inA comfy soup for the still chilly nights

  1. Reuel

    Nov 11

    Was a little bland to my taste. I’ll ramp it up, more chiles de arbol? Maybe some chipotle.

    1. Pati Jinich

      Nov 11

      Sure, spicy it up! Chipotle would be great 😉

  2. Jon

    Dec 18

    Followed your recipe exactly(using dried epazote). First taste reaction: “Did I really just make this?”. Such an Amazing recipe! The flavors are bold, but balanced. No restaurant has offered anything remotely as beautiful as this. This is one of those recipes that reminds me I should always be willing to try something new.
    2 months later i finally found a Mexican market that has fresh epazote(I truely love this recipe that much!).
    Can’t wait for the weather to cool so I can have an excuse to make this again!!! Thank you for all you do!!!

    1. Pati

      Dec 18

      Oh wow…I’m so happy you love this recipe so much!

  3. Mary Belcher

    Jun 14

    Hi Pati:

    I want to try your recipe for Pozole Rojo. I had a recipe and it calls for New Mexico Chilies. But was given to me via through a friend of mine and she has since passed away. I am unable to locate the recipe. I thought I had printed out but I guessed now this was back in 1993 and since she has passed my husband asked if I could make…Help me, please!
    Sincerely, Mary B

    1. Pati

      Jun 15

      Mary, My recipe for Red Pozole is in my new cookbook!! And there is one for White Pozole too

  4. Claudia

    Mar 05

    Hola Pati! Que sorpresa en serio encontrarte como cocinera! Se me antojan tanto tus recetas! Hasta creo que voy a comenzar a cocinar mas otra vez. No encuentro tantos ingredientes como en DC aca en Francia pero igual se puede! Un beso Claudia

    1. Pati Jinich

      Mar 05

      Hola Claudia!!! Ya vez las vueltas que da la vida 20 años después! Con tantos estudios de Ciencia Política ahora vivo metida en la cocina… Avísame, igual y te puedo mandar cosas de por estos rumbos… Qué rico que estás en Francia…. YUM! Muchos besos, Pati

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