This home-style soup could be lunch, or a whole meal. The broth is flavorful, and the ingredients combine many textures and flavors. Everything except the avocado can be done in advance. Reheat the vegetables in the soup; the other ingredients will be heated sufficiently by the stock.
- Olive Oil - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Onions - 2 medium, peeled and sliced thin
- Garlic Cloves - 6, peeled
- Ripe Tomatoes - 2 pounds, cored and cut into chunks
- Dried Oregano - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Dried Basil - 1-1/2 tablespoons
- Ground Cumin - 1 tablespoon
- Freshly ground black pepper - 1 teaspoon
- Water - 10 cups
- Meaty Chicken Pieces - 2 pounds
- Bay Leaves - 3
- Epazote Sprig - 1, (optional)
- Tomato paste - one, 6-ounce can
- Red Bell Pepper - 1, seeded, deribbed, and julienned
- Celery - 1 cup, sliced
- Zucchini - 1-1/2 cups, diced
- Carrot - 1 large, peeled and thinly sliced
- Salt to taste
- Potato - 1 medium, peeled and diced
- Vegetable Oil - 1 cup
- Corn tortillas - 15, cut into 1/4-inch strips
- Fresh Spinach - 1/2 pound, washed, stemmed, and julienned
- Avocado - 1, peeled, pitted, cubed, and sprinkled with lemon juice to prevent discoloration
- Mozzarella or Monterey jack cheese - 1 pound, shredded
Place the oil in a large saute pan or skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and saute until the onions are translucent and soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomatoes, oregano, basil, cumin, and pepper. Continue to cook until the tomatoes are soft, about 10 minutes, then puree the mixture in a blender or food processor. Set aside.
Bring the water to a boil in a large soup pot and add the chicken, bay leaves, and epazote. When the water returns to a boil, skim off the foam that rises to the surface, then add the pureed vegetable mixture and tomato paste. Simmer over low heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked and tender. Remove the chicken pieces with a slotted spoon and, when cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and shred the meat. Set the meat aside.
Add the bell peppers, celery, zucchini, and carrot to the broth and cook about 10 minutes, or until tender. Remove the vegetables, set aside, and salt the broth to taste. Let the broth continue to cook.
While the soup is cooking, parboil the diced potato in salted water until tender. Drain and pat the cubes dry on paper towels. Heat the oil in a saute pan or skillet and fry the potato cubes until browned. Remove, drain on paper towels, and set aside.
In the same oil, fry the tortilla strips in small batches until crisp; drain on paper towels. Set aside.
To serve: Divide the vegetables and potato cubes among the soup bowls. Add to each, in order, the tortilla strips, spinach, shredded chicken, cubed avocado, and cheese. Pour the boiling broth into the soup bowls and serve immediately.