6 to 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas, preferably day-old
2 large very ripe tomatoes,
peeled and seeded
2/3 cup coarsely chopped white onion
1 large clove garlic
Lard or vegetable oil
7 cups chicken stock or broth
4 sprigs fresh cilantro
3 sprigs fresh mint, if desired
1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt
4 or 5 dried pasilla
5 ounces Chihuahua or Monterey jack cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
Stack tortillas; cut into 1/2-inch wide strips. Spread loosely on wire rack;
let stand 1 or 2 hours to dry slightly.
Combine tomatoes, onion and garlic in blender container; process until smooth.
Heat 3 tablespoons lard or vegetable oil in 3-quart saucepan over medium heat
until hot. Add tomato mixture; cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes.
Add stock and cilantro sprigs to pan; heat over high heat to boiling. Reduce
heat to low; simmer 20 minutes. Add mint and salt; simmer 10 minutes longer.
Remove and discard cilantro and mint sprigs; keep soup hot, covered.
Melt enough lard in heavy, large skillet to 1/2-inch depth. Heat to 375
degrees F; adjust heat to maintain temperature.
Fry 1/2 tortilla strips at a time in lard, turning occasionally, until crisp,
about 1 minute. Remove with slotted spoon; drain on paper toweling. Fry chiles
in lard, turning occasionally, until puffed and crisp, about 30 seconds. Do
not let chiles burn. Drain on paper toweling. Cool slightly.
Crumble chiles coarsely.
Ladle soup into bowls; pass chiles, tortilla strips, cheese and chopped
cilantro to be added according to individual taste.