This recipe won "honorable mention" in The 2001 Old Farmer's Almanac Recipe Contest: "Best Soups and Chowders." It was entered by Michael and Tami Flannery, Keymar, Maryland.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
4 jalapenos, fresh or pickled, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15 ounces each) pinto beans, drained and rinsed
6 cups chicken broth
4 cups chopped chicken breast
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 corn tortillas, for topping
1/4 cup vegetable oil, for frying
1 cup shredded cheese, divided
1/2 cup sour cream, for topping
In a stockpot over moderately low heat, combine 2 teaspoons of oil and the onion, garlic, and jalapenos. Cook stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft. Add the chili powder, and cook and stir for 15 seconds. Add the tomatoes, beans, broth, chicken, and cilantro, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the soup simmers, cut the tortillas in half, stack them, and then cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips. In a skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of oil over moderate heat; fry the tortilla strips in batches, stirring constantly for 15 seconds, or until crisp and pale golden. Drain the strips on paper towels.
Divide the cheese among 4 soup bowls and ladle the soup over the cheese. Top with tortilla strips and dollops of sour cream