- 1 medium dried ancho pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 cup water
- Oil for deep-fat frying
- 6 corn tortillas (6 inches), halved and cut into 1/4-inch strips
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) whole tomatoes, drained
- 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- 1-1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
- 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
- 1 medium lime, sliced and quartered
- In a small bowl, combine the ancho pepper and water; let stand for 20 minutes or until pepper is softened. Drain and discard water; set pepper aside.
- In a large saucepan, heat 1 in. of oil to 350°. Add half of the tortilla strips; cook and stir until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips; set aside.
- Drain saucepan, reserving 2 teaspoons of oil. In reserved oil, cook the onion, garlic and pepper over low heat until onion is golden brown, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat; cool slightly. Transfer to a food processor; add tomatoes. Cover and process until smooth.
- Return mixture to the pan. Cook, uncovered, over medium heat for 10 minutes or until mixture has thickened to the consistency of tomato paste. Add broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add the cilantro, salt and cayenne if desired. Divide cheese and avocado among six bowls; top with the soup, tortilla strips and lime. Yield: 6 servings.