Servings: 6 to 8
You find mushroom soup in Mexico year-round, but especially during the summer rainy season in the central part of the country, when foragers go out to the hills before dawn to gather all sorts of exotic varieties and bring them, still glistening with the morning dew, to local markets. For this soup, you can use wild mushrooms such as chanterelles, trumpets, shiitakes, or oysters (a mix is nice) or cultivated ones such as white buttons, cremini, or baby bellas. Whether made with wild or cultivated varieties, Mexican mushroom soup has a rustic mountain quality. Dried chiles are usually part of the equation; the most common are guajillos, used here, or anchos or chiles de árbol, which can be substituted. All will give the broth a red hue and a smoky taste, but anchos will yield a more bittersweet, chocolaty flavor, and chiles de árbol will make it smokier and the heat a bit feistier.
Heat a comal or skillet over medium-low heat. Add the guajillo chiles and toast, turning, until their skin goes from soft and deep red to toasted and mostly browned but not blackened. Transfer the chiles to a saucepan, cover with hot water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium, and simmer until the chiles are softened, about 10 minutes.
Transfer to a blender, add 1 cup of their cooking liquid, and cover tightly. Puree until smooth.
Heat the oil and butter in a large pot over medium heat until the butter melts. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is softened and the edges are just beginning to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, stir, and cook until fragrant, less than a minute. Raise the heat to high; stir in the mushrooms, 1 tsp. of the salt, and the black pepper, and cook the mushrooms, stirring often. They will release their juices and then, as the juices evaporate, begin to brown, which is what you want. It should take 10 to 12 minutes.
Once all of the mushroom liquid has evaporated, reduce the heat to medium, stir in the pureed chiles, and cook until the puree thickens and most of it has been absorbed by the mushrooms, about 10 minutes. Add the broth, stir, add the epazote or cilantro sprigs, and bring to a simmer. Simmer until all the flavors come together, about 10 minutes. Remove the epazote or cilantro, add the remaining 1/2 tsp. salt, and season to taste. Serve with lime wedges.
If you want a layer of tomato flavor and a thicker broth, add a tomato to the guajillo chiles as they simmer. Simmer until the chiles are softened and the tomato is mushy, about 10 minutes, then puree with the 1 cup cooking liquid. You can do this with any soup that calls for pureed rehydrated chiles.
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