Tortilla Soup

This recipe is a little family variation from a recipe that my mom found in a Williams Sonoma Soup book. I look forward to the fall ALL SUMMER LONG just so we can start eating this dinner again. It warms you from the belly up!

1/2 c. plus 1 T. Vegetable Oil
1 yellow onion - thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c. plus 2 T. fresh cilantro - chopped
1 large can whole plum tomatoes - drained
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
4 c. chicken stock
1 can golden sweet corn, drained
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into thin, bite size strips
salt & pepper
12 corn tortillas
Crushed red pepper flakes
1 Avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
1/4 c. shredded Monterrey jack cheese
2 tsp. fresh lime juice (optional)\'

In a large stock pot, heat  1 TBS of oil. Add the onions, garlic and 1/4 c. of cilantro, and saute over med heat for about 10 minutes or until the onions are a golden brown, careful not to burn the garlic.
In a blender or food processor, combine the sauteed mixture with the canned tomatoes (possibly working in batches) and process until smooth.
Heat up the same stock pot (don't rinse it), add the tomato mixture and cumin. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened and darkened - about 5-6 minutes.
Add in the stock, cover partially and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the soup is thicker, stirring frequently. Add in the chicken strips and cook for about 2-3 minutes or until they are opaque. Add in the corn. Season with Salt & Pepper and crushed red pepper flakes for some heat.

While the soup is simmering:
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the 1/2 c. vegetable oil. While it is warming: stack the tortillas together and cut in half. Then cut each half into pencil-thin short strips. Drop a few tortilla strips into the hot oil. Working in small batches (the more strips that you put in the oil the higher the oil with bubble up - Overflowing hot oil+ stove top= house fire!) cook all the tortilla strips until they are a darker golden brown, remove from oil carefully with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Season with salt while they are still warm.

To serve:
Ladle into bowls, top with cheese, avocado, lime juice, tortilla strips and a sprinkling of cilantro.

makes 4-6 servings