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Houston's Tortilla Soup

1 (2 1/2 to 3 pound) chicken, cut-up and skin removed
2 ribs celery, cut into chunks
1 medium onion, quartered
1 large carrot, quartered
2 sprigs parsley
2 tablespoons chicken soup base
1 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1 large clove garlic or granulated garlic, to taste
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled

Combine the first seven ingredients in a large stockpot and cover with water by about 2 inches. Bring to a rapid boil; lower heat to a simmer and cook for about 1 hour until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.

Strain and reserve the broth. Tear pieces of chicken into small pieces. Set aside.

In 4 cups of the reserved chicken broth, boil the potatoes until tender. Remove from heat. Do not remove the broth. Mash the potatoes and add the following:

1 large can creamed corn
1 (10 ounce) can Ro-Tel tomatoes, crushed
1 1/2 cups half and half
2 to 4 tablespoons minced cilantro

Add enough of the reserved chicken broth to thin out the soup to the desired thickness. Simmer on low for about 15 to 20 minutes. Taste and correct seasoning. Be careful of adding too much salt.

Moments before serving, stir in:

1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
Reserved cut-up chicken
4 to 6 corn tortillas, cut into
    1/4-inch julienne strips

Continue to simmer until cheese is melted and chicken is heated through.

To serve, ladle soup into deep bowls. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream, chunks of avocado dipped in lemon juice, slices of black olives and a small handful of thin corn tortilla strips that have been deep fried.



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