For the Stock:
Season the chicken with salt. Place in a large stock pot and add the remaining ingredients. Season with a teaspoon of salt. Place the pan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the heat and cool completely. Remove the chicken and set aside. Strain the liquid into a another pan, discarding the vegetables. Remove the fat and bones from the chicken. Dice the chicken into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
For the Soup:
Preheat the fryer. Cut half of the tortillas in quarters and thinly slice the other half. Fry both cuts of tortillas in batches, until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and set aside. Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onions. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook, stirring, until soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaf and jalapeno. Continue to cook for 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Crush the reserved fried tortilla quarters over the tomatoes. Stir to mix. Stir in the reserved chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 30 minutes. Using a hand-held blender, puree the soup until smooth or leave chunky. Reseason the soup. Stir in the reserved diced chicken and cilantro. Simmer for another 5 minutes. To serve, ladle the soup into individual bowls. Garnish with the avocados, squeeze of lime juice, fresh cilantro and the fried tortilla strips.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
EMERIL’S CORN TORTILLAS:
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and lard. Mix well. Stir in the water. **The dough should be slightly wet. Form the dough into a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 12 pieces.
Place a little water on the hands and form the dough into small balls. Place the balls on a piece of parchment paper (12 inches by 8 1/2 inches). Using your hands, flatten the dough and form into a flat circle. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the circle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a 6 1/2 to 7-inch circle and 1/8-inch thick.
In a medium non-stick skillet, over medium heat, brown the tortillas for 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Remove and place between 2 sheets of parchment paper. Repeat the above process with the remaining dough. Serve warm.
Yield: 12 tortillas