Heat the oil in a large pot and saute the onion until soft. Add the Basic Chicken Stock, garlic, bay leaf, oregano, peppercorns, and chiltepin and simmer for 1 hour.
While the soup is simmering, fill a deep saucepan with corn oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat to 375 degrees F. (If you don't have an oil thermometer, heat the oil until a piece of tortilla dropped in the oil sizzles immediately, but don't let the oil start smoking.) Fry the tortillas strips until golden brown and crisp. Drain strips on paper towels. Alternative method: If you prefer not to deep-fry, brush the tortillas lightly with oil before cutting them into strips, and bake on a cookie sheet in a preheated 350 degree F oven until dry and crisp.
When the soup has simmered 1 hour, puree 1 1/2 cups of the Salsa Fresca and add it to the soup. Remove from the heat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.
Divide the fried tortilla strips into 6 wide soup bowls. Add 2 or 3 slices of avocado, a lime wedge, and some grated cheese to each bowl. Pour in the hot broth, add a dollop of salsa, and serve immediately, with the additional lime wedges on the side.
Basic Chicken Stock:
Put all the ingredients in a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, skimming off the foam that comes to the surface. Reduce the heat and simmer, skimming occasionally, for 2 hours. Strain and discard the bones and vegetables. You may wish to refrigerate the broth and skim off fat before using in a recipe, or freezing.
Mix all the ingredients together. For best results, let salsa stand at least half an hour before serving or incorporating into recipe. Use within 24 hours. (The Vinaigrette calls for 1 cup. Enjoy the remaining 2 cups in Tortilla Soup or just with chips.)
Chiltepin chiles are available in the Southwest. You may substitute other tiny dried peppers sold in cellophane packets in many stores, such as pequins, Thais, or japones, or use 1 1/2 teaspoons dried red chile flakes.
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