Cook the tortilla squares until slightly crisp. Do not brown.
Arrange tortilla strips on a small baking tray.
I fell in love with this soup many years ago when I worked at the Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas. Though the flavors are full and robust, its tomato-broth base keeps it light and delicate. This soup exemplifies the subtle complexities of Southwestern cuisine. It has become a standard soup in all of the Wolfgang Puck Cafés.
2 ears of fresh corn, husks removed
4 or 5 large garlic cloves, peeled
1 small onion (about 2 ounces), peeled, trimmed, and quartered
1 small jalapeño pepper, trimmed and seeded
2 tablespoons corn oil
2 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch squares
2 large ripe tomatoes (1 pound), peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 quarts chicken stock, heated
Feshly ground black pepper
2 corn tortillas
1 ripe avocado
1 large chicken breast, cooked, boned, and skinned
1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Using a large knife, carefully scrape the kernels off the corn cobs and set aside, reserving the cobs.
Using a food processor fitted with the steel blade, coarsely chop the garlic, onion, jalapeño pepper, and the corn kernels. Reserve.
Make the soup: In a large stockpot, heat the oil. Add the squares of tortillas and cook over low heat until they are slightly crisp. Stir in the chopped vegetables and simmer just until the vegetables are coated with the oil. Do not brown.
Add the tomatoes, the tomato paste, and 2 teaspoons of the cumin and continue to simmer for about 10 minutes to maximize the flavor. Slowly pour in the stock, add the corn cobs, and cook over low heat until the soup is reduced by one third.
Discard the corn cobs and purée the soup in batches, in a blender or food processor until smooth. At this point, the soup can be passed through a fine strainer if desired. Return to a clean pot and season with salt and pepper.
Prepare the garnish: Preheat the oven or toaster oven to 350° F. Cut the tortillas into thin strips and arrange on a small baking tray. Bake until the strips are crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Peel and dice the avocado. Cut the chicken into thin strips.
To serve, add the chicken and avocado to the soup and reheat over low heat. Ladle the soup into 6 to 8 warm soup bowls and garnish with the baked tortilla strips, cheddar cheese, and chopped cilantro. Serve immediately.
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