Quick Tortilla Soup

Serves 6 to 8

Top soup with any or all of the following: grated pepper Jack cheese, diced avocados, light sour cream, chopped fresh cilantro, hot red pepper sauce.

1 pound (2 large) boneless chicken breasts, halved cross-wise to form two thin cutlets
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, separated
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
4 large garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons canned chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
2 quarts low-sodium chicken broth
1 can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted if you can find them)
2 cans black beans, not drained
6 ounces tortilla strips
1 lime, cut into 8ths

Heat a Dutch oven or soup kettle over medium-high heat. Toss chicken with 11/2 teaspoons of the oil, salt, and chili powder to coat. Add chicken to hot pot; cook, turning only once, until impressively brown on both sides, 5 to 6 minutes.  Transfer to a plate and cut (or shred when cool enough to handle) into bite-size pieces.

Heat remaining tablespoon of oil in the hot empty pot; add onions and saute until softened, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and peppers; continue to saute until fragrant, about a minute longer.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes, and black beans.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low and simmer partially covered and skimming foam as it surfaces, to blend flavors, about 5 minutes. Stir in chicken and turn off heat.

Place a portion of tortilla strips in each bowl, ladle over hot soup, and top as desired, letting each person squirt in a little lime.