When I think of a traditional Mexican mole, I envision large cazuelas (pots) of bubbling chile colorado and chocolate sauce. Some recipes for mole may include up to 25 or more ingredients. As far back as I can remember, my mom would prepare this large pot of caldo de res (beef soup), with big chunks of vegetables. On most days the vegetables were always the same, such as corn, carrots, potatoes, cabbage and calabaza (zucchini). The broth was a simple beef broth rendered down from the poaching of the meat. The word mole comes from the Nahuatl Aztecs. Molli meaning sauce, stew or concoction. So I ask, is this a soup (caldo) or is it a mole? I believe that somewhere over time, the recipe came together as a way to utilize the traditional ingredients found in the Mexican kitchen. Mixing and matching the flavors you love, I believe, is how the most delicious recipes are developed. And this is my “most favorite” soup recipe!
2 pounds bottom round or chuck roast, sliced into 2-inch pieces
In a large Dutch oven-style pot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to medium/high heat for 5 minutes. Season the beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Brown in hot pan on most sides.
Add 10 cups of water, 8 cloves of garlic, 2 bay leaves and 2 teaspoons of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, skimming off the top when needed. Cook at a low simmer for 2 hours.
While soup cooks, add the dried guajillo or New Mexico peppers to a sauce pan. Cover with water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook for 10 minutes. Drain the peppers and transfer them to the blender. Add 1 cup of water, blend on high until smooth.
After the 2 hours and when beef is tender, you can remove the bay leaves and cloves of garlic. Add the onion, garlic, serrano pepper, tomato, chayote, carrots, oregano and epazote. Take the chile puree from the blender and using a wire-mesh strainer, add it to the soup. Use a wooden spoon to help you push the puree through. Take some of the hot broth to help you strain the chile puree. Discard pulp. Bring to a boil, taste for salt and cook for 30 minutes.
Add the remaining vegetables, water and beef bouillon. You could use beef broth as well. Bring to a boil once again, reduce heat and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Taste for salt. Serve with warm tortillas, diced serrano peppers, lemon or lime wedges and avocado.
When possible, I would suggest preparing a large batch of chile puree. You could store it in smaller portions and keep in freezer for up to 4 months. It’s much easier to defrost in small portions.