with minor modications from Food & Wine January 1997
8-10 Tablespoons vegetable oil
16 6-inch corn tortillas, halved and cut into 3/8" strips
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
2 Tablespoons paprika
1 heaping Tablespoon cumin
2 teaspoons coriander
1 Tablespoon chili powder
10 cups chicken broth (we use Better than Bouillon)
2 28-ounce cans whole (or crushed) tomatoes in puree
4 bay leaves
3 teaspoons salt (considerably less than the original recipe)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3/4 inch pieces
2 avocados, diced
grated cheddar, about 2/3 of a pound (we used sharp white from New York)
In a large heavy pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add about 1/10th of the tortilla strips and cook, stirring, until pale golden brown, about 1 minute. (I start off with less oil and add it as needed, to minimize the total amount used.) Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue until all the tortillas are fried.
Reduce the heat to moderately low. Add the onion, garlic and spices, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the broth, tomatoes, bay leaves, salt, cilantro and one-third of the tortilla strips. Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves.
In a blender, in batches, puree the soup. (Be careful, because the soup is hot. Fill the blender no more than 3/4 full and always put a dish towel on top of the cover in case any leaks.) Pour all the soup back in the pot. Add the chicken, and simmer until just cooked through. The original recipe says this just takes a minute but I usually give it 5-10 just to be safe. Stir in the avocado.
To serve, crunch up some of the remaining tortilla strips in a bowl, top with cheese and then cover both with soup. Sprinkle with cilantro, if you like, and a squirt of lime juice.
Pumpkin Cranberry Bars
These are completely addicting! The recipe (which we didn't alter at all) is here. It's from Taste of Home November 2002 and is great for potlucks and block parties because it makes 48 bars! :)