2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium-size onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon pure ancho chili powder
1 can (14.5 ounces) crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken broth, preferably low-sodium
Kosher or coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
3 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 11/2 pounds)
Canola or vegetable oil, for pan-frying 6 corn tortillas, halved and cut crosswise into thin strips
Juice of 1 lime
To serve (optional, pick and choose):
1 or 2 avocados, peeled and diced
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 ⁄ 2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salsa or pico de gallo
1 lime, cut into wedges
Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until tender and golden, 5 minutes.
Stir in the cumin, coriander and chili powder and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and chicken broth, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer over high heat.
Add the chicken breasts and lower the heat to medium-low.
Simmer uncovered (don’t let the soup come to a boil), stirring occasionally, until the chicken is just barely cooked through, about 12 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a plate and let sit until cool enough to handle. Keep the soup gently simmering over medium-low heat.
Meanwhile, pour the oil to a depth of 1 inch into a medium-size skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Line a plate with a couple of paper towels. When the oil is hot, add the tortilla strips in batches and fry, stirring often, until they are crisp and lightly colored, about 2 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon to the plate, and sprinkle lightly with salt while they are still hot.
Shred the slightly cooled chicken, and stir it and the lime juice into the soup.
Ladle the soup into soup bowls and top with the fried tortilla strips, along with your choice of diced avocado, cheese, cilantro, salsa and lime wedges.
Cooking the chicken breasts in the broth enriches both broth and chicken, but if you are in a rush, go ahead and use about 3 cups of shredded cooked chicken, maybe from a rotisserie chicken.
Need one more shortcut? Skip the frying of the tortillas; grab a bag of tortilla chips, lightly crush a few handfuls and use those instead.