Tortilla Soup, Northwestern Style A steaming bowl of tortilla soup on a cold, wintry day makes for a wonderfully hearty meal, rich with tantalizing aromas and exquisite flavors. I was presented with my first taste of tortilla soup when I visited Austin, Texas several years ago. It was so delicious, I knew I would have to serve this soup to my family. My hostess gave me her recipe and the following few years I experimented with it. This is the version that suits my family’s taste buds. I love making (and eating) this soup. I hope you will too. Enjoy! Ingredients soup base 2 large chicken breasts, cooked 1/4 cup butter 1/2 cup olive oil 1 pepper, finely chopped (orange, yellow, red, and/or green pepper) 1 chili pepper, finely sliced (optional) 1 large sweet onion, chopped 2 – 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1/2 – 2/3 cup flour 6-10 ounces corn tortilla chips, mashed into very tiny pieces 2 tablespoons chili powder 4 teaspoons cumin 1/4 teaspoon cayenne 3 – 4 quarts chicken stock (e.g. Imagine Organic Chicken Stock) several sprigs cilantro, chopped 2 – 3 fresh Roma tomatoes cut into small pieces (optional) 1 cup water or more, as needed Soup topping: sour cream grated Cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses tortilla chips, lightly crushed avocado slices (optional) Directions Poach the chicken by gently simmering it in a sauté pan. (To poach, add enough cold water to cover chicken. Bring to boil; lower heat and simmer 10-15 minutes.) Cut chicken into small pieces; then set aside. Heat the butter and olive oil in the soup pot. Add peppers, onion, and garlic and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes. Pour flour into the pan and blend well with the oil, butter, peppers, onion, and garlic. Continue cooking and stirring for about 5-7 minutes. Slowly add the first quart of chicken stock to the soup mixture, one cup at a time. Blend well between additions. Next add the mashed corn tortilla chips, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, and the remaining quarts of chicken stock. Blend well. Simmer the stock for about 45-60 minutes on low or medium-low heat; stir often. Add water, as needed. Add cut up chicken breasts, tomatoes, and cilantro. Continue simmering until all ingredients are hot. Pour hot soup into bowls. Top soup with sour cream, grated cheese, lightly crushed tortilla chips, and avocado slices. Serve immediately.