Tortilla Soup

INGREDIENTS

6 corn tortillas, cut into ¼-inch strips

Vegetable oil to coat pan about ½-inch deep for frying

4 garlic cloves, peeled

1 small white onion, sliced

1 (15-oz) can whole tomatoes, drained

1 dried ancho chili (or 2 dried pasilla chilies) stemmed, seeded and torn into several flat pieces

6 cups chicken broth

1 large sprig fresh epazote

Salt

¾ cup shredded Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese

1 avocado, peeled and cut into small cubes

Lime wedges for garnish

Preparation:   Serves 4 as a light main dish

In a 4-quart saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add half the tortilla strips, and stir constantly around in the oil until they are golden brown and crispy. With a slotted spoon, scoop them out and drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining strips. Pour off all but a thin layer of hot oil from the pan and return to heat. Add the garlic and onion to the pan and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Transfer onion and garlic to a blender or food processor. Add the tomatoes and purée until smooth. 

Add the chilies to the hot pan. Turn quickly as they fry, toast and release their aroma, about 30 seconds in all. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Return the saucepan to medium-high heat. Add the puréed tomato mixture and stir constantly until it has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 10 minutes. Add the broth and epazote and bring to a boil, then cover and simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt.

Ladle the broth into 4 bowls, top with a portion of the tortilla strips and crumble on a little toasted chili.

Divide the cheese and avocado among the soup bowls. Serve with wedges of lime.