The original called for cactus pears in addition to the mushrooms. Since I did not have cactus pears, I just doubled the amount of mushrooms. This soup begins with broiling all the vegetables (tomatoes, tomatillos, onions, garlic and jalapenos) till they get lightly charred. After the vegetables cool down, you peel the tomatoes and then puree the vegetables with a cup or two of chicken broth, a few sprigs of cilantro and a generous amount of anise seeds. Next you heat a tablespoon of oil, add the seasoned vegetable puree and salt and stir till it thickens a little. Finally add mushrooms and simmer for thirty minutes. Adjust seasoning and serve.
The verdict: This is a funny soup. Infact this is the first soup I have come across that does not improve with time. It tasted fine when I tasted it from the simmering soup pot. When we finally sat down for dinner (after four or five hours) it tasted like "diluted salsa" - those were the Boy's word. And today, after a day or two in the fridge, it tastes insipid. In all honesty, I made a few substitutions but all of them were recommended in the recipe. I also left out the toasted pasilla chilly garnish the book called for, but I can't imagine that making much of a difference. Since, I have never had a problem with any of Rick Bayless's recipes I will probably make this one again. All that roasted, charred goodness must make for a good soup.