Corn and Chipotle Tortilla Soup

Aired April 1, 2011

2 tablespoons vegetable, corn or olive oil
4 slices smoky lean bacon, chopped (optional)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 to 3 ribs celery with leafy tops, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cups organic defrosted corn kernels or 2 fresh ears of corn, cut into 1-inch chunks, cob and all
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 round tablespoon Old Bay seasoning
2 tablespoons seeded and pured chipotle in adobo sauce
1 14-ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 quart chicken stock
Salt and pepper
2 cups lightly crushed blue corn tortilla chips, such as unsalted Xochitl brand
Shredded Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack cheese
Diced avocado
Lime wedges
Chopped cilantro or parsley

Heat oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Add bacon, if using, and lightly brown. Add onions, garlic, celery, bell pepper and corn. Season with thyme, bay and Old Bay, and cook to soften, 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chipotle, tomatoes and stock and simmer together a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, divide tortilla chips among four soup bowls. Top with cheese, avocado and a squeeze of lime then ladle in soup and garnish with cilantro or parsley.

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