12 – 20 tortillas, cut into thin strips
Vegetable Oil for frying
2 dried chile pasilla
2 dried chile ancho
4 quarts defatted chicken broth (4 lt)
4 tomatoes, chopped (about 1 lb/500 gr)
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
Salt to taste
1 tbsp. chopped cilantro (4 gr)
Toppings (prepare in advance):
1 lb (500gr) oz pkg queso fresco or feta cheese, crumbled
3 – 4 avocados, sliced
1 cup (240 ml) mexican sour cream (optional)
1 onion, finely chopped
Remove the stems and seeds from the dried chiles, and break the chiles into pieces. Set aside.
Heat vegtable oil in a large 10″ skillet. Add the strips of tortillas, and fry over medium heat until crispy, about 4 minutes. Remove from the vegetable oil, and drain the strips on paper toweling. Add the pieces of dried chiles, and fry very briefly, for 5 to 10 seconds. Remove the chiles from the vegetable oil, and place in the container of a blender.
Add 4 cups (1lt) of chicken broth to the container of the blender, along with the tomatoes, onion and garlic. Puree well until smooth, adding as much of the remaining chicken broth needed to facilitate blending. Pour the puree into a 6 qt stock pot, along with any remaining chicken broth. Heat until simmering, salt to taste, and add cilantro. Simmer for about 30 minutes.
Fry tortilla strips in vegetable oil, until crispy. Serve soup in individual bowls, or in a large tureen. Serve all toppings and tortilla strips in separate dishes, so that each person can garnish their soup to their liking.
If you have time to make the Tortilla Soup one day in advance, the flavor will be more robust and developed. However, it would be better to fry the tortilla strips right before serving the soup. Simply fry the chiles briefly, remove the vegetable oil from the heat, and leave in the skillet overnight until you are ready to fry the tortilla strips the next day. This is what I do, although some may not like having a skillet of frying oil sitting around the kitchen.