1 jalapeño chile, roughly chopped (optional)
15 oz canned diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted) or 16 oz fresh tomatoes
2 T olive oil (not extra virgin)
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4-inch thick
3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
6 c chicken broth
1 large sprig epazote
2 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, poached and shredded
1 large ripe avocado, large dice
6 oz shredded Mexican melting cheese, or any other of choice
4 c roughly broken tortilla chips, or baked/fried tortilla strips
1/2 c sour cream for garnish
1 large lime, wedged
1. Place the chile pieces and tomatoes (with juice) into a blender or food processor.
2. Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes.
3. Scoop up the onion and garlic with a slotted spoon, pressing them against the side of the pan to leave behind as much oil as possible, and transfer to the blender. Process until smooth.
4. Return the pan to medium-high heat. When hot, add the puree and stir nearly constantly, until thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 6 minutes.
5. Add the broth and epazote. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 minutes. Taste and season with salt, usually about a generous teaspoon.
6. Divide the poached chicken, diced avocado, cheese and tortilla chips between serving bowls. Ladle soup into bowls, and garnish with the sour cream and a lime wedge.
This recipe is remarkably robust to meddling. For my version, I put some fresh tomatoes under the broiler. I used low-sodium vegetable broth (dietary needs of some family members) and added chicken for the people who eat it. I used a seeded pasilla pepper instead of the jalapeno (very little heat, for kids). I used cilantro instead of epizote. And I used a yellow onion!
The whole family thought it was great. The few leftovers didn't make it till morning.