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Tortilla Soup

(from Dallas Morning News, Aug. 15, 2001, interview with Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken)

As Orlando said, "my mother's tortilla soup sure didn't taste like this."

5 garlic cloves peeled
10 Roma tomatoes, cored and quartered            
3 tablespoons olive oil 
1 large yellow onion, diced 
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper           
8 cups chicken stock 
1 dried chipolte chili, stemmed and seeded 
3/4 pound tortilla chips 1 bunch (1/2 cup) cilantro leaves 
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced            
1/2 cup crema (available in Mexican markets 
 or make your own with recipe below) 
2 limes cut in wedges

Place the garlic and tomatoes in blender until smooth. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over low heat. Add the onion, salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until pale brown and caramelize, about 10 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and cook 10 minutes longer, stirring frequently.

Pour in the chicken stock and add the chipolte chili. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Stir in the tortilla chips and cook 10 minutes longer until the chips soften. Remove and discard the chili.

Serve hot with cilantro, avocado, crema, lime wedges and some extra crisp fried tortilla chips for adding at the table. Makes 10 servings

Crema: Whisk 2 cups heavy cream and 1/4 cup buttermilk together. Cover and set in a warm place (a gas oven with just the heat from the pilot light is fine) for 8 hours. Crema may be kept in the refrigerator for as long as a week.

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