Servings: Serves 4 to 6
- 1 dried ancho chili
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 1 large onion , chopped (about 2 cups)
- 2 carrots , peeled and sliced into 1/2-inch coins
- 2 stalks celery , cut into 1/2-inch slices
- 3 cloves garlic , peeled and quartered
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) chopped tomatoes
- 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
- 6 corn tortillas
- Vegetable oil , for frying
- Sliced avocado
- Crumbled queso fresco or shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
- Sour cream
- Lime wedges
Place chili in a small, heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and let soak 30 minutes. Drain; remove stem and seeds. Slice into 1/2-inch strips and set aside.
In a heavy Dutch oven or soup pan, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper. Brown on both sides, about 10 minutes total. Add onion, carrots and celery. Continue to cook about 8 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic and cumin and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add broth, reserved chili, tomatoes and cilantro and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. With your hands, tear 3 tortillas into 2-inch strips and add to the soup. Continue to simmer about 15 minutes.
With a slotted spoon, remove chicken to a cutting board; take soup off heat. With an immersion blender, puree soup until smooth (or puree in small batches in a food processor fitted with knife blade). With two forks, shred chicken; return to soup. Season soup to taste with salt and pepper.
Slice remaining tortillas into 1/4-inch strips. In a small saucepan, heat 1 inch vegetable oil until very hot. Fry tortilla strips until crisp, about 1 minute. With a slotted spoon, remove strips to a paper-towel-lined plate and season with salt. Serve soup in bowls topped with tortilla strips and any or all of the optional garnishes.