Cooking with Carmen: Tortilla Soup

Being from Columbus, Ohio I grew up with Max and Erma's restaurants all over the place. When I was a kid they had telephones at the tables where you could call other diners, and play pranks, flirt, or just say hello for the fun of it. They don't have the phones any longer, but what they do still have, and what is one of there best held secrets, is their tortilla soup.
I have never wanted to make tortilla soup unless I some how had found a way to replicate theirs. I've searched the internet high and low for recipes that seem like they MIGHT be the one. All the copycats seemed wrong, I don't have to make them to know that they will not taste the same. Cream of chicken soup is not something Max or Erma would have added to their soup.
Sorry folks.
Can't do it.
No condensed soup for this girl.
While wasting time one Pinterest one day, a recipe came up that seemed promising. Not as a copycat Max and Erma's tortilla soup, just one that sounded like it would taste really good, and maybe make me realize that I can move beyond my childhood memory and try something new. All of the reviews were good, and I had all of the ingredients so I thought I would give it a try. The best thing was, was that I could do it in the crock pot. I have to say...
It was terrific.
It was more than terrific.
It trumped the Max and Erma's soup only in that it wasn't as thick and creamy and so therefore automatically better for you.The soup was full of flavor, spice, and was perfect for a chilly evening.

I made my own tortilla strips from corn tortillas to garnish the top (you can do this in the oven with a little Pam, as long as they are all coated, and not touching each other, they will crisp up nicely. Or you can fry them in oil on the stove)
Here is the recipe, with the slight changes that I made from the original.

Better than Max and Erma's Tortilla Soup

1 pound shredded, cooked chicken ( I used a rotisserie, but you could poach chicken if you like)
1 (15 oz) can of whole peeled tomatoes, mashed ( I just used a can of diced tomatoes)
1 (10 oz) can of enchilada sauce ( you can make your own, but I just used the trusty Old el Paso)
1 medium onion
1 (4 oz) can chopped green chile peppers
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups of water
1 (14.5) can chicken broth ( I used at least 2 cans full, if not three)
1 teasp. Cumin
1 teasp. chili powder
1 teasp. salt
1/4 teasp. black pepper ( I have a heavy hand with pepper you will)
1 bay leaf
1 (10 oz) package frozen corn (I only used half, a whole bag just seemed too much)
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro (didn't have any, so left it out, didn't miss it)

approx 7 corn tortillas, veg oil for frying or Pam for spraying for the oven.

We topped with tortillas and the Sargento Mexican blend cheese. NOT the taco seasoned cheese, the blend. It's wonderful and I use it for so many things, mac and cheese, quesadillas etc.

Try it, it wont disappoint. For those of you who love the Max and Erma's soup, you'll be pleased to find that you'll enjoy this even more.
At least as much!
Happy Souping.

Even Keels