Mexican Tortilla Soup

This slightly spicy, comforting soup is a real crowd-pleaser and totally kid-friendly. Let diners customize soup to their liking with chopped cilantro, sour cream, hot sauce, jack cheese and avocado slices.

PREP TIME: 15 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hours 0 minutes

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more for frying
2 large white onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 tsp. coarse kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
12 cups chicken broth
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes
Juice of 2 limes
1 package (8 oz.) small corn tortillas, cut into 1/4-in.-thick strips
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/4-in.-thick strips
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Sliced avocado, sour cream, grated Monterey jack cheese, additional chopped cilantro and hot sauce for garnish

Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in two-thirds of the garlic, 1 tablespoon. salt, cumin, and chile flakes. Sauté for 2 minutes.

Add broth, tomatoes, and half the lime juice and reduce heat to a gentle simmer; cook 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, pour about 1 in. of vegetable oil into a small frying pan set over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add one-third of the tortilla strips and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 2 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer strips to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tortilla strips in two batches. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt. Set aside.

Purée soup in batches in a blender. Return soup to pot and resume simmering. In a small bowl, toss chicken with remaining lime juice, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Marinate at room temperature for 10 minutes, then add to soup and simmer 5 minutes, until chicken is just cooked through. Stir in cilantro. Top with tortilla strips and your choice of toppings.