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Tortilla Soup

3 tablespoons corn oil
4 corn tortillas, cut into long strips
8 garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups fresh onion puree
4 cups fresh tomato puree
5 dried New Mexican green chiles (or Anaheim chiles)
2 jalapeno chiles,chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped epazote (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro)
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 large bay leaf
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
1 cooked, whole, skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into thin strips
1 large avocado, peeled, seeded and cut into small cubes
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
4 corn tortillas, cut into thin strips and fried crisp

To make the tortillas soup, heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
Add the tortillas and garlic and saute until the tortillas are
crisp and the garlic is golden brown, about 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the onion puree and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until reduced by half.
Add the tomato puree, chiles, jalapenos, cumin, epazote,coriander, bay leaf, and chicken stock.
Bring to a boil.
Lower the heat and simmer for approximately 40 minutes.
Skim the fat from he surface if necessary.
Process through a food mill to attain the perfect consistency
or use a blender.
If the soup becomes too thick, then with some additional chicken stock.
Season to taste with salt, lemon juice, and optional cayenne.
Ladle the soup into warm bowls.
Garnish each bowl equally with portions of chicken breast, avocado, shredded cheese and crisp tortilla strips.
Serve immediately. Serves 4 to 6.

by Dean Fearing, The Mansion on Turtle Creek, Dallas, Texas
Tortilla soup is a Southwestern classic, and probably the most popular soup in Texas.
It's basically chicken soup that has been glorified withtomatoes, interesting Mexican spices, herbs, and chile peppers. Fried tortilla strips garnish the soup along with avocado cubes and shredded cheese.
It's hearty enough to serve as a meal.
If you're not going to serve it right away, make the soup ahead of time and add the garnishes at the last minute.

This recipe is from: The Food of Texas: Authentic Recipes from the Lone Star State by Caroline Stuart (Periplus Editions LTD., 2000)
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