This is a modification of a recipe from Williams-Sanoma's book "Savoring America", Oxmoor House, 2002.
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
5 skinless chicken thighs
5 tablespoons olive oil divided
2 large yellow onions finely chopped
3 large carrots with greens. Carrots finely chopped, the greens washed and removed form their stems then chopped very finely.
4 celery stalks finely chopped
8 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried Mexican oregano
2 ½ qts water
1 28oz can whole tomatoes with their juices
1 teaspoon salt plus more to taste
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
6 tortillas (about 7" or so diameter)
½ lb sharpish cheese (such as Monterey Jack) grated
1 avocado peeled and sliced into quarters
4 green onions peeled and sliced finely
½ cup fresh cilantro chopped
1 or 2 limes quartered
Red pepper flakes
Wash the chicken pieces well. Remove excess fat and any sinews. Pat the pieces dry and season with salt and pepper.
Fill another pot with the 2 ½ quarts of water (10 cups) and begin to heat it.
Place two tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven and heat it over medium-high heat.
Fry the chicken pieces until golden-brown on each side.
Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Add some more oil to the Dutch oven and, over medium heat, cook the carrots, onions, celery and oregano for about 9 minutes or so, taking care that they do not brown.
Add the carrot greens and garlic and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and their juices to the vegetables and use a few tablespoons of the heated water to rinse the can out into the veggies.
Break the tomatoes up with a wooden spoon.
Return the chicken to the Dutch oven and add all the boiling water.
Season with a teaspoon of salt and a generous grinding of black pepper.
Bring these to a boil and lower the heat to maintain a simmer.
Cover the pot.
Cook for about 20 minutes, stirring half way through.
Remove the breasts to a plate.
Continue the simmering of the broth for a further 10-12 minutes.
Remove the chicken thighs and let the simmering continue for another 10-12 minutes.
While this is going on, place the soup bowls in the warming drawer or fill them with very hot water.
Chop the cilantro and the green onions.
Take the tortillas and cut them in half. Place the two sets on top of each other and cut them in half again, then cut the whole lot into thin (3/4 in) strips.
Heat a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a pan and fry up the tortilla strips until crisp.
(The original recipe calls for straining the broth at this point and discarding the solids. I find this leaves a tasty but bodiless broth. I remove nothing.)
Make sure all the tomatoes are broken up.
Shred the chicken pieces using two forks and return the chicken to the broth.
Return this soup to a gentle simmer. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Place the spring onions, cilantro, avocado and red pepper flakes in bowls on the table.
Into the warmed soup bowls place some tortilla strips and some grated cheese.
Ladle the soup into the bowls making sure each gets some chicken and some vegetables.