Okay, back to this awesome SOUP! I used my homemade stock but purchased chicken stock will work almost as well. I am so proud of myself for making my own stock that I just had to say that =D. The dried ancho chile is simmered in the stock before pureeing and when I made this soup, I deseeded the whole chili before pureeing. Next time, I will leave some of the seeds so that there is at least minimal heat. This soup is gorgeous because the garnishes have so much color and added flavor. . .which this soup doesn't need but only increases the attraction.
Texas Tortilla Soup
4 T. olive oil
1 Medium-size yellow onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 t. chili powder
2 t. ground cumin
4 c. chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 dried ancho chile pepper
1 (15-ounce) can peeled tomatoes
3 cooked, shredded chicken breasts
3 ears fresh corn or 1 (8-ounce) package frozen corn (optional but oh so worth it)
2 ripe avocados, peeled and sliced
Tortilla chips or strips
2 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
1 c. shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
Sour Cream (optional)
To Make the Soup: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Slice the tomatoes in half. Spread 1 tablespoon of the olive oil on a baking sheet or pizza pan and arrange the tomatoes on top, skin side up. Drizzle the tomatoes with another 1 tablespoon of the olive oil Roast the tomatoes for 25 to 35 minutes, until the skins wrinkle and the tomatoes are slightly brown around the edges.
Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed, 4-quart soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and bell pepper and saute about 5 minutes, until the vegetables become soft. Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock and ancho chile. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover, decrease the heat, and simmer about 15 minutes, until the ancho chile softens. Remove the chile from the soup and pull off and discard the stem. Cut the chile in half and discard the seeds, if desired. (Leaving the seeds in makes for a spicier soup.) Place the softened chile, the canned tomatoes with their juices, and the roasted tomatoes (including as much of the juices and browned tomato bits as possible) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree the chile-tomato mixture about 1 minute. Transfer the chile-tomato mixture to the soup and continue simmering, covered, about 1 hour. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with the cooked chicken, If using fresh cor,m, cut the kernels from the cobs, add the corn to the soup, and simmer for 5 minutes.
To Garnish the Soup: Ladle the soup into medium bowls. Lean 3 to 4 slices of avocado against the edge of each bowl, partially sticking out of the soup. Arrange the tortilla chips or strips in a similar way. Sprinkle each bowl with a handful of diced tomatoes, some cilantro, and 2 tablespoons of shredded cheese. Top with a spoonful of sour cream. Serve immediately.