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Chicken Tortilla Soup

Chicken Tortilla Soup is a delicious way to serve your family vegetables. Save and freeze the juices from baked chicken to make broth or use the convenient cubes, such as Knorr brand. A vegetarian version may be made by omitting the chicken and substituting vegetable broth. This recipe makes about 4 quarts.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

8 cups chicken broth or 8 cups water and 4 Knorr chicken broth cubes

1 bunch green onions with tops, sliced

10 baby carrots, sliced

2 stalks of celery, sliced

1 potato, cubed (leave the skin on)

1 cup bell pepper, chopped

6 ounces tomato paste

2 garlic cloves or ½ teaspoon garlic powder

1 can black beans, drained

12 ounces frozen corn

1 zucchini, coarsely diced

1 yellow crookneck squash, coarsely diced

2 chicken breast halves, grilled and cubed, or half of a rotisserie chicken, meat removed and cubed

2 medium tomatoes, coarsely chopped

1 cup salsa (I like Pace Picante Medium)

3 ounces sliced black olives, drained

1 bunch cilantro, washed, stems removed and coarsely chopped, reserve the leaves from about 6 stems for garnish.

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1 bag tortilla chips

1-2 avocados, peeled and sliced

1½ cup shredded cheese (cheddar, reduced-fat cheddar, Jack or Mexican blend)

In a large pot, bring to boil the broth or water and broth cubes, then add onions, carrots, celery, potato, bell pepper, tomato paste, squashes and garlic. Simmer for 25 minutes and add the chicken, tomatoes, salsa, olives and cilantro. Heat through.

Garnish with tortilla chips, avocado slices and shredded cheese. Top with reserved cilantro leaves. Serve with tortilla chips or corn bread.

Pam McMurtry is a wife, parent of seven, artist, designer, caterer and writer with a bachelor's degree in art teaching, drawing and painting. She is the author of "A Harvest and Halloween Handbook" and her website is at www.pammcmurtry.com.