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Chef Aarón Sánchez's recipe for Sopa Seca

RELATED: Aarón Sánchez: 5 things I can't live without

From: Chef Aarón Sánchez, for Simple Food, Big Flavor (Atria Books, 2011). Yield: 2 snack or side dish servings.

¼ cup canola oil
1 cup small shaped pasta such as melon seeds, orzo or alphabets
½ cup Roasted Tomato-Chile de Arbol Salsa (recipe follows)
2 cups chicken stock (low-sodium store-bought is fine)
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
a handful of shredded cotija or queso fresco (may use Pecorino, Parmesan or lightly salted feta)

Roasted Tomato-Chile De Arbol Salsa (yields 2 cups):
1 lb. plum tomatoes (about 4)
3 to 6 chiles de arbol, depending on desired level of spice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper

For pasta: Heat oil in a Dutch oven or medium pot over medium-high heat until itripples. Add pasta and cook, stirring constantly, until it is golden, about 3 minutes. Scoop out and discard 2 Tbsp. of oil. Add Roasted Tomato-Chile de Arbol Salsa; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour in stock and bring to a simmer. Cover pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is absorbed and pasta is tender, about 20 minutes. Divide pasta between two bowls and garnish with cilantro and cheese.

For roasted tomato-chile de arbol salsa: Preheat broiler. Broil tomatoes on baking sheet until they are charred, 10-12 minutes. Remove tomatoes and cool. Slip off the skins and remove tough cores. Transfer tomatoes to a big bowl with tomato juice from baking sheet, then roughly chop them.

While tomatoes are broiling, heat dry skillet over medium heat and toast the chiles, flipping them over occasionally until they just begin to smoke, about 5 minutes. Set aside in a bowl. In a saucepan over medium heat, add olive oil, onion and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally until onion is soft, about 7 minutes. Add toasted chiles, tomatoes and 2 cups water. Bring to simmer and cook another 12 minutes, allowing flavors to come together. Let cool.

Carefully transfer mixture to a blender. Add cilantro, salt and pepper; puree until mixture is very smooth. Pour through medium-mesh sieve into bowl. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled. Store salsa tightly covered in refrigerator for up to a week, or in freezer for a month.

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