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Tortilla Soup

Tortilla Soup
Corn tortillas were a staple of the Mexican diet long before the Spaniards arrived in the 16th century. Historically, tortillas were made fresh daily without preservatives, so they quickly became tough. After Spanish cooks introduced soups to Mexico, day-old tortillas found their way into nourishing broths. Adding them to a chili-spiked soup was a thrifty way to revive an ingredient.

Ingredients:

  • 5 dried ancho chilies, soaked in boiling water,
     drained, seeded and chopped
  • 4 fresh Anaheim chilies, seeded and chopped
  • 3 cups chopped peeled tomatoes
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbs. canola oil
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1⁄2 lb. cooked chicken, cut into 1⁄2-inch dice
  • 2⁄3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus leaves for
     garnish
  • Vegetable oil for deep-frying
  • 6 corn tortillas, cut into strips 2 inches long
  • 6 oz. crumbled queso fresco or shredded jack
     cheese
  • 1 avocado, pitted, peeled and sliced

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine the ancho and Anaheim chilies, the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Working in batches, coarsely puree in a blender. Transfer to another bowl.

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the canola oil until almost smoking. Add the chili mixture and cook, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes. Stir in the stock and water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes. Stir in the chicken and chopped cilantro.

Meanwhile, in a deep fryer, pour in vegetable oil and heat to 375°F according to the manufacturer's instructions. Working in batches, fry the tortilla strips until crisp, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish with the tortilla strips, cilantro leaves, cheese and avocado slices and serve immediately. Serves 6.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.