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Tombstone Tortilla Chicken Soup

2 T. vegetable oil
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch crosswise strips
3 medium onions, cut in half, thinly sliced
2 stalks of celery, trimmed, diced
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
3 (14 1/2 oz.) cans chicken broth
1 C. water
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (7 oz.) can mild chilies, such as Ortega
2 (11 oz.) cans corn kernels
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. chili powder
6 corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
Salt and pepper to taste
Garnish: Sour cream
Garnish: Tortilla chips
Garnish: Tortillas for making tombstones
Garnish: Sprigs of cilantro
Optional garnish: Minced pickled jalapeno chilies

Heat oil in large, heavy-bottom pot or Dutch oven. Add chicken thigh strips and brown on both sides. Remove chicken with slotted spoon or slotted spatula, leaving oil in pan; place chicken in bowl. Add onions and celery; cook, stirring frequently, until onions start to turn golden brown. Add garlic; cook 1 minute.

Add chicken, chicken broth, water, tomatoes, chilies, corn, cumin and chili powder. Bring to boil; reduce temperature to simmer. Simmer 45 minutes. Stir in tortillas; simmer 3 minutes. Taste; add salt and pepper, as needed.

Presentation:

Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish each with spoonful of sour cream, 2 or 3 tortilla chips and sprigs of cilantro. Put out small bowl of minced pickled jalapeno chilies, if desired; those who want spicier mixtures can add a little to their soup.

To make tombstones. Preheat oven to 350F. Spray baking sheet with olive oil nonstick cooking spray. Using 3-inch Halloween cookie cutters, cut tortillas, one at a time, into shapes. Discard scraps.

Lightly spray tortilla shapes with cooking spray. Place on prepared baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Bake 5 to 7 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Remove to wire rack to cool completely.

Yield: 6 - 8 servings

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