Shrimp tortilla soup

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This soup is a great do-ahead because it uses cooked shrimp which is added at the last minute.  Most tortilla soups get mushy if you don't eat them right away, but the tortillas are added at the end in this recipe so you can make the base a few days ahead, cover and refrigerate, and then reheat just before serving.

2 Tbsp. corn oil
4 corn tortillas, cut into 3-x1/2-inch strips
1 Tbsp. corn oil
1 cup finely chopped white onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 long green chiles (Anaheim or New Mexican), roasted, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
1 can (16 ounces) peeled, chopped plum tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin seed, toasted and ground
1/8 tsp. cayenne
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
4 cups vegetable stock
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 lb. cooked medium shrimp, split horizontally

In a medium skillet, heat the oil over medium heat; when hot, add the tortillas and cook, in batches, if necessary, until they are crisp and golden, about 5 minutes.  Remove from the pan and drain on paper towels; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat the tablespoon corn oil; when hot, add the onion, cook about 2 minutes and add the garlic and chiles; cook until onion is softened, about 5 more minutes.  Add tomatoes, cumin, cayenne, salt and pepper and cook until flavors are well blended, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the vegetable stock, lower heat and simmer until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Divide tortilla strips, avocado, and shrimp among 6 soup bowls.  Ladle hot soup into bowls and serve immediately.

Note:  The shrimp is cut in half horizontally for two reasons:  it makes it look like there is more shrimp and the shrimp is easier to eat because they are not in such large pieces.

Yields: 4-6 servings