1large or 2 small white spring onions (or 1 medium-sized cured white or yellow onion), peeled and chopped
1 1/2tablespoonssunflower oil
12-14ounceszucchini (3-4 medium), trimmed and chopped into roughly 1/2" pieces
1corn tortilla, torn into pieces
about 3 cups water (or mild chicken or vegetable stock)
juice of 1-2 limes
The crispy tortilla strips (totopos):
2corn tortillas, cut into thin strips (approx. 1/4" wide by 2" long)
sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving
Make the soup:
Roast the chiles over an open flame until the skins are mostly blackened. (I set mine on my stove's burner over a medium-low flame, and turn them occasionally with tongs.) Set aside until cool enough to handle, then peel, seed, and chop the chiles.
Separate the stems from the cilantro leaves and reserve both. Chop the stems and place them with the chiles and zucchini. Reserve the leaves in a separate bowl.
Warm the oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or soup pot. Add the onion and saute until slightly translucent, 5 minutes. Add the chile, cilantro stems, zucchini, parsley, mint and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the zucchini is fairly soft, 5-10 minutes. Add the tortilla and enough water or stock to come up to the level of the vegetables. Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer the soup, partially covered, until the zucchini is very soft, about 15 minutes.
Let the soup cool slightly. Reserve a few pretty sprigs of cilantro for garnish, and add the rest to the soup. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup completely smooth. (Alternately, puree the soup in a blender in two batches.) Add the lime juice to taste, and more salt if needed. If the soup is thick, thin it with a bit more water or stock; if the soup is too thin, you can add more tortilla, simmer for 5 minutes to soften, and puree again.
Make the totopos:
Heat the remaining oil in a heavy (such as cast iron), medium skillet set over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the tortilla strips, and saute, flipping and stirring frequently with a metal spatula, until the tortillas are golden and crisp, reducing the heat if needed. Season with a pinch of salt.
Serve the soup warm, garnished with a dollop of cream, a handful of tortilla strips, and leaf or two of cilantro and mint.
Adapted slightly from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors.Chiles can vary greatly in heat, so I'd recommend tasting each one post-roasting and adding them in with discretion.I almost always make this with water, but you can use a mild vegetable or chicken stock in its place; just omit the salt, and add it to taste.I've made this soup with olive oil and was surprised to find the flavors conflicting; I highly advise using sunflower oil as the cooking oil here. If you lack an herb garden and don't wish to buy full bunches of mint and parsley only to use a few tablespoons of each, know that I've made this soup many times omitting both and it is still amazing.This soup is best the day it's made, when the color and flavors are bright, but it's still an excellent soup on day two or three, and, in a pinch, can be frozen and re-heated later.Nutritional values are based on one of six servings.