As the chile soaks, turn on the broiler and place a rack 6 inches from the heating element. Place the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and jalapeño in a cast-iron skillet and cook for 10 minutes or until everything is starting to blacken. Remove the garlic and place in it a blender. Flip over the onion and jalapeño (leaving the tomatoes as they are), and return the skillet to the oven. Cook for 10 more minutes then remove the skillet from the oven.
After the ancho chile has softened, rinse it then place it in the blender. (If using the ancho chile powder, add this instead). Puree the roasted tomatos, aromatics, and chiles until smooth. (Add more water if necessary.)
Meanwhile, strain the cooled broth throwing out the vegetables. Rinse out the pot then pour back in 8 cups of the broth, reserving for another use any left over.
While the soup is simmering, make the fried tortilla strips. Heat in a heavy skillet 1/4 inch of vegetable oil to 350°F. In batches, fry the tortilla strips until lightly browned and crisp, about a minute. Drain on a plate lined with a paper towel and lightly sprinkle with salt.
While this soup will have more depth if you make it all from scratch, I realize not everyone has that luxury of time. Most of the soup’s flavor comes from the roasted tomato and chile puree, so don’t skimp on that; the puree can, however, be made a couple of days ahead of time. You can then blend the puree with 3 cups shredded cooked chicken and 2 quarts prepared chicken broth for a quick and delicious meal. You could even use crumbled tortilla chips, though I do find the freshly fried corn tortilla strips are more sturdy as well as flavorful.
Chicken tortilla soup | www.homesicktexan.com