Chicken Tortilla Soup

For the soup:
8 plum tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
5 cups fat-free chicken broth
1 dried ancho chile pepper
1 (15-ounce) can peeled tomatoes
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne, for heat (optional)
3-4 chicken breasts or 1/2 a rotisserie chicken, shredded
8 oz corn, fresh or frozen (thawed)
For serving (optional):
Avocado slices
Tortilla chips or strips
Diced plum tomatoes
Chopped fresh cilantro
Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Fat-free Greek yogurt or sour cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Slice the plum tomatoes in half.

Toss with 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Place on a foil-lined baking pan and roast the tomatoes for 35 minutes, until the skins wrinkle and the tomatoes are slightly brown around the edges. (Alternately, if you have time, preheat the oven to 300 and roast for 90 minutes – the slow roasted tomatoes are so much more flavorful than the quick-roasted ones. You can do this step ahead of time and refrigerate the roasted tomatoes.)

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.
Add the onion, garlic and bell pepper and saute about 5 minutes, until the vegetables become soft.

Stir in the chili powder and cumin and cook for 1 minute.

Add the chicken stock, 1 cup water, and ancho chile. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then cover, decrease the heat and simmer about 15 minutes, until the ancho chile softens.

Remove the chile from the soup and pull off and discard the stem. Cut the chile in half and discard the seeds, if desired. (Leaving the seeds in makes for a spicier soup)

Place the softened chile, the canned tomatoes with their juices and the roasted tomatoes (included as much as possible of the juices and browned tomato bits) in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Puree the chile-tomato mixture about 1 minute.

Transfer the chile-tomato mixture to the soup and continue simmering, covered, about 1 hour.

Add salt and pepper to taste and ground red pepper (if using) along with the cooked chicken.

Add the corn to the soup and simmer for 5 minutes. (If freezing, stop here and allow the soup to cool before transferring to “leftover” containers and freezing. It keeps for at least two months).