3 tbsp. vegetable broth (or sub water or neutral oil, such as avocado)
1 c. white or yellow onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (peeled and smashed)
7 mild dried chilies (such as New Mexico (our preferred), Ancho, or Guajillo)
1 - 2 dried arbol chilies* (stems removed (for heat // add more or less to adjust spice level)
2 c. vegetable broth
1 c. water
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. sea salt (plus more to taste)
1 tsp. dried oregano
Heat a large rimmed skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add vegetable broth (or water or oil), onion, and garlic. Sauté for 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until tender and slightly browned.
Add dried chilies and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Then add vegetable broth and water (see photo). Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add tomato paste, cumin, paprika, salt and oregano (optional). Stir, cover, and cook for 5 more minutes or until peppers are tender.
Transfer to a high-speed blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more paprika or cumin for smokiness, salt for saltiness, or a pinch of cayenne pepper for spiciness (although it should be plenty spicy).
Use immediately. Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator up to 5 days or in the freezer up to 1 month.